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You Can Fight the Flu! - Part II

  What If I Get the Flu?

If you feel like you're getting the flu, there's a lot you can do to get back on your feet as quickly as possible:

  • Stay home from work or school. The CDC says to wait until your fever has been gone for at least 24 hours (without the help of a fever-reducing medicine) before you go back to school or work.
  • Go out only for medical care or to run errands that are absolutely necessary.
  • Get lots of rest and drink plenty of liquids.
  • Avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
  • For adults, consider over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve the symptoms of the flu.
  • Children and teens 5 to 18 years old with the flu can also take OTC medicines, but only medicines that don't have aspirin in them. Good medicines for kids are acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®). Don't give aspirin or medicines containing aspirin (like Pepto Bismol) to kids of this age! In some children and teens, using aspirin has caused a very serious disease called Reye's syndrome.
  • Children under 4 years old should not get OTC cold medications without an okay from their healthcare provider. If you think your young child has the flu, call a healthcare provider right away for advice!
  • See your healthcare provider within the first 2 days after you get the flu. Prescription flu medicines work best, if they are started right after you get sick.
  • See your healthcare provider right away when you're getting the first flu symptoms, if you are pregnant, 65 or older, or already have other health problems.

What Are the Signs of a Flu Emergency?
Most people who get the flu will be able to get through it with rest and OTC fever-reducing medicines. But the flu can be unpredictable. So, it's good to know when you have a flu emergency on your hands. If you or someone else has these symptoms, don't wait! Get medical help immediately:

Emergency Flu Symptoms
Emergency Flu Symptoms
· Difficulty breathing
· Shortness of breath
· Pain or pressure in your chest or belly
· Sudden dizziness
· Confusion
· Severe vomiting
· Vomiting that doesn't stop
· Fast breathing
· Trouble breathing
· Bluish skin color
· Not drinking enough fluids
· Not waking up
· Not interacting with others
· Too irritable to be held
· Fever with a rash
· Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough


What Else Can I Do to Protect Myself?
The CDC is a great source of up-to-date flu information all the way through the flu season:

Find online information at or call 1-800-CDC-INFO


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC Says "Take 3" Steps to Fight the Flu. These actions will protect against the new H1N1 too! Last updated August 5, 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seasonal Flu: Cold Versus Flu. Last reviewed September 18, 2006.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Flu. A Guide for Parents. Last updated September 10, 2008.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Flu. Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Last updated December 10, 2008.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2009 H1N1 Flu. Last updated August 28, 2009.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What to Do If You Get Flu-Like Symptoms. Last updated August 5, 2009.

National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Common Cold. Symptoms.

National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Flu (Influenza).


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