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So, You Have the Flu. Now What?

Girl feeling sick

Published on October 21, 2021

Read Time: Two Minutes

Influenza (or the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect a person’s nose, throat and lungs. Flu season generally occurs in the fall and winter.

Most people with the flu have a mild case and do not need medical care or medicine.

If you do get infected with the flu, below is some advice from Anaid Hernandez-Sanchez, MD, an internal medicine physician with the Phelps Health Medical Group:

When should I call my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have respiratory symptoms like cough, runny nose and sore throat, along with these symptoms:

  • Fever (more than 100 degrees F)
  • Severe muscle pain (usually back pain)
  • Severe headache
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath

Patients at high risk of complications from the flu include the following:

  • Children less than 5 years old
  • Adults ages 65 or older
  • Pregnant women
  • Patients with chronic conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), uncontrolled diabetes, liver disease, etc.

When should I got to ER?

If you have flu symptoms, you should go to the emergency department or call 911 if you have the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe vomiting

Are there medicines I can take to treat the flu?

Yes, antiviral medicines can help patients avoid some of the problems caused by the flu. Not every person with the flu needs an antiviral medicine. Antibiotics do not help or treat flu symptoms.

Besides antiviral drugs, how can the flu be treated?

For general flu symptoms, you can take Tylenol and ibuprofen (unless your healthcare provider has advised you not to take those medicines).

Over-the-counter medicine can be used to treat a runny nose or cough. (Please use caution with these medicines).

Also, make sure to drink plenty of fluids, rest and eat healthy.

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

If you are sick with the flu, remain home from work, school and other crowded areas until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever without the use of medicines, such as Tylenol, ibuprofen or naproxen.

How can I avoid getting sick from the flu?

Get the flu vaccine every year. Some years, the flu vaccine is more effective than others. However, even in years when the flu vaccine is less effective, getting vaccinated still helps prevent some cases of the flu. The flu vaccine also can help keep you from getting severely ill if you do get the flu.

Also, remember to wash your hands often with soap and water as well as stay away from people who are sick.

Get Your Flu Vaccine

Contact your Phelps Health primary care physician or provider to schedule your flu vaccination appointment. You can also schedule your flu shot through MyChart.

Found in: Care Flu Health Influenza Sick Visits Vaccinations