Symptoms of the flu include:
- Sore throat
- Body aches
- Some people may also experience vomiting or diarrhea
Health Care Etiquette
To prevent overcrowding hospitals and other health care facilities, and to ensure that the virus is contained, please follow this advice from health care professionals:
- Seek care in the appropriate places for appropriate reasons. For example, call your physician's office first; do not just show up if you are unsure whether a visit is necessary
- Avoid having more than one support person with a patient in a health care setting (i.e., physician's office, hospital, etc.)
- Visitors and "tagalongs" under 12 years of age are especially discouraged. Additionally, refrain from visiting the maternity ward at hospitals. This will help prevent spreading germs and illness to newborn children and mothers, who are especially susceptible
- All health care workers are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, and have been asked to stay home from work if they have flu-like illness
- Make sure you have a primary care physician so you can call him or her if you become ill, rather than immediately going to the emergency department
- The best time to call your doctor is first thing in the morning, before they get wrapped up in appointments and other things throughout the day and in the late afternoon. Additionally, the best time to seek care in an emergency room or urgent care center is first thing in the morning
If you are sick with the flu, you may be ill for a week or longer. Please stay home, except if you need medical care, so you can recover and prevent others from getting sick. In general, avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness, especially to those with high-risk chronic conditions like asthma or diabetes.
- Drink plenty of fluids and rest as much as possible
- Avoid travel
- Do not go back to work or school until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the assistance of fever-reducing medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Motrin)
- Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your shirtsleeve
Influenza is transmitted primarily through respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze. People with the flu should limit their contact with others as much as possible. Ask the person you're caring for to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they sneeze or cough and have them throw the tissue in the trash. You should clean your hands often by washing with soap and water or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Additionally, consider wearing a mask when tending to someone with the flu, to help avoid breathing in the virus.
If you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs, immediately seek urgent medical care.
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color (call 911 immediately)
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Fever with rash
- Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever or worse cough
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever or worse cough
Children and adults who are ill and at high risk for flu complications, and people with more severe flu symptoms, should call their regular health care provider to determine if they need to be seen. If they can't reach their provider, they should consider going to an urgent care center, being careful to take sanitary precautions while in the waiting room to avoid exposing others to their illness. Most people with influenza who are generally in good health will recover without needing to visit a health care provider.
- Call your health care provider to get advice on whether or not you need to be seen
- You have severe symptoms or a chronic condition that put you at higher risk for flu complications
- You cannot contact your health care provider
- Your health care provider will decide if you should be tested for influenza. In general, there is no benefit to testing otherwise healthy people for the virus. Patients admitted to the hospital are tested for influenza; high-risk patients may also be tested
- Antiviral medication is recommended for people at high risk for complications or those who are hospitalized
- Visit the CDC's influenza website for more information about antiviral medication.