Healthy Living

I Have the Flu — Now What Do I Do?

Jan 23 2020

If the start of your New Year has you feeling under the weather, you’re not the only one. The news is reporting widespread flu activity, which means flu season is in full effect.

Knowing what to do when you have the flu can be confusing. Should you see a doctor or just wait it out at home? Go to an urgent care or emergency department? Avoid seeing friends and family? Don’t worry, we’ve got answers for you.

Preventing the flu

First, there are several steps a person can take to help prevent the flu. These include:

  • Get a flu shot and encourage household contacts to do the same. Although the flu shot does not prevent all strains of the flu, it does help to lessen the severity.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. Or use hand sanitizer.
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with others who are sick.
  • Sanitize surfaces like phones and keyboards frequently.

What to do if you have the flu

If you are sick and have flu symptoms, you should stay at home—with the exception of any needed medical care—and avoid contact with people. If your symptoms worsen or cause concern, contact your primary care provider or visit your nearest urgent care.

If you think you are ill, please take simple steps to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

  • Stay home and get rest.
  • Drink plenty of clear fluids such as water, herbal tea and sports drinks.
  • Use a humidifier to make breathing easier.
  • Ease congestion with a nasal rinse or saline solution.
  • Gargle with salt water to sooth a sore throat.
  • Take over-the-counter medicine to treat fever and aches.
  • Use a protective mask when you are in public, if possible.
  • Limit contact with others as much as possible.
  • Remain at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
  • Contact your primary care physician if symptoms worsen or persist.
  • Visit your primary care physician for a flu test and clinical assessment.

When does the flu turn into an emergency?

According to the CDC, you should get medical care right away if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms:

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

In adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

How long does the flu last?

If you have a typical, uncomplicated case of the flu, expect it to last one to two weeks. Your symptoms might be gone after three to seven days, but sometimes a cough can last a little longer, over two weeks.

Should I get the flu shot after I’ve already had the flu?

The answer is yes! It will still help prevent against future sickness and could reduce the severity of your symptoms if you get sick again. While we commonly refer to it as “the flu,” influenza refers to over 100 viruses.

When you get sick, your body only makes antibodies that protect you from that exact virus. Thus, you can get sick with a similar yet different virus later. After you’ve recovered from your sickness, your next step in prevention is to get the flu shot.

Schedule an appointment with a Bon Secours primary care physician today.

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1 Comment

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T. Lennon

This is very helpful information. Thanks.
January 29th, 2020 | 10:54am

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