What to do if you are sick with the flu

1. Know the signs and symptoms of flu. 
Symptoms of flu include fever or chills and cough or sore throat. 
In addition, flu symptoms can include runny/stuffy nose, body aches, 
headache, fatigue, weakness, diarrhea, or vomiting. 
 
Make sure you have a thermometer available to check your temperature 
if you feel ill, and over-the-counter medications 
containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen 
to treat fever and flu symptoms. 
 
Make sure that you follow dosing guidelines 
and don’t mix different multi-symptom cold and flu medications.
 
2. Stay home if you are sick, except to go to a health care provider’s office.
Don’t go anywhere for at least 24 hours after there is no longer a fever or signs 
of a fever (have chills, feel very warm, have a flushed appearance, 
or are sweating). 
 
This should be without the use of fever-reducing medications 
(any medicine that contains ibuprofen or acetaminophen). 
 
Staying away from others while you are sick 
can prevent others from getting sick too. 
 
Ask your spouse, caregiver or friend to check up on you 
and to bring you food and supplies if needed. 
 
Having a “flu buddy” will make sure you know who to call 
if you need help, 
and will limit the number of people 
you might expose to the flu virus. 
 
Call your doctor or health care provider for advice 
if you think you might need medical attention. 
 
Actually, call them anyway!
 
Ask about taking an anti-viral treatment such as Tamiflu 
(oseltamivir phosphate).
 
Before taking Tamiflu, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing. 
Let your doctor know if you have kidney disease, heart disease, 
respiratory disease, diabetes, or other health conditions 
that may have weakened your immune system. 
Also tell your doctor about any medications you are taking
or if you’ve received a nasal-spray flu vaccine
in the past 2 weeks.
If you have an allergic reaction or a severe rash with Tamiflu, 
stop taking it, and contact your doctor right away. This may be very serious. 
The most common side effects of Tamiflu are mild 
to moderate nausea and vomiting.
 
3. Stay in a separate room and avoid contact with others while you are ill.  
(See this CDC document: Make a Separate Sick Room, if You Can)
 
If someone is helping to care for you wear a mask, 
if available and tolerable, 
when they are in the room. 
 
Try to maintain a 6 foot distance from others 
if you are unable to wear a mask. 
 
Do not go to work or any scheduled event 
if you have a flu-like illness, until you are no longer likely to spread the virus. 
 
4. When coughing or sneezing cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
Dispose of the tissue in a trash can,
wash your hands immediately.
 
5. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.  
Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective 
if soap and water are not available. 
 
It is good idea even if you aren’t sick to carry a small bottle of Purell 
with you during flu season. Use it frequently. 
 
6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.  
The average person touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth 
more than 200 times a day! 
 
For most of us this is an unconscious act, but if you think about it 
and notice how many times you do it, 
you can learn to minimize this and thus avoid spreading the flu virus.
 
You can avoid “re-infecting” yourself. 
 
7. Drink plenty of clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks, fruit juices
and electrolyte beverages) to keep from becoming dehydrated.
Plenty of water when you have the flu is 10-to-15 8 ounce glasses a day. 
 
Avoid coffee, tea and other caffeinated drinks 
because they will dehydrate you even more. Don’t even think 
about drinking wine, beer or other spirits. 
 
8. Contact your doctor or health care provider AGAIN right away:
➨If you are having difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
 
➨If you feel pain in your chest.
 
➨If you have sudden dizziness or confusion, 
severe or persistent vomiting, or are getting worse. 
 
You should also seek medical attention if your flu symptoms improve, 
but then return with fever or more severe cough.
 
For more information visit www.flu.gov or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.
 
(This chart prepared by David Bunnell, 
based on information from the CDC and Washington & Lee University.)
 

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