Healthy Living

What Do I Do if I Have the Flu?

Jan 24 2020

You might have heard the words “widespread flu activity” on the news—which means flu season is in full swing. Your priority is to prevent the flu for you and your family. But what happens if you get sick?

Knowing what to do when you have the flu can be confusing. First, do you have the flu or something else? Should you see a doctor or just wait it out at home? Should you head to an urgent care or have an Evisit? What about avoiding seeing friends and family?

I think I have the flu… what should I do?

You might have the flu if you’re experiencing many of these symptoms:

  • fever/feeling feverish
  • cough/sore throat
  • runny/stuffy nose
  • muscle/body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue/tiredness
  • sometimes vomiting and diarrhea

According to the CDC, most people who have the flu have it very mildly. If you are sick with flu symptoms you should stay home and avoid contact with people.

Contact your primary care provider if you need medical care. Flu Evisits with your primary care provider are a great way to get the care you need from the comfort of your home. You can also visit your nearest urgent care.

How do I know if I have emergency symptoms of the flu?

You should see your provider right away if you are having symptoms of the flu and are in a high-risk group, are very sick, or worried about your illness. People who are in a high-risk group can develop some serious flu-related complications.

According to the CDC, you should seek medical care immediately if you have any of the following 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?

A typical, uncomplicated case of the flu can last one to two weeks. Symptoms typically resolve after three to seven days, with a cough that may persist for two weeks or a little longer.

Are there medicines to treat the flu?

Yes! Drugs called “antivirals” can make you feel better faster and may prevent serious complications. These drugs can only be prescribed by your doctor and are most effective if taken within 48 hours from when you first notice symptoms.

What about getting a flu shot if you’ve already had the flu? If you haven’t had the flu shot yet this season, you should still get one after you’ve recovered from your illness. “The flu” refers to more than 100 viruses, and the flu shot prevents against multiple strains. By getting your flu shot, you’re still protecting yourself from future sickness.

How long should I stay home if I’m sick?

You should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, except to receive medical care or other necessities. Your fever needs to be gone without the assistance of fever reducing medicine, such as Tylenol.

What should I do while I’m sick?

It’s best if you stay away from others as much as possible when you are sick. If you must go out in public, wear a face mask if you have one. Also, cover your cough and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer to keep the flu from spreading.

Most importantly, make sure to get lots of rest and drink lots of fluids such as water, herbal tea and sports drinks. If your sickness doesn’t seem to be getting better, reach out to your primary care physician.

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