Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
Influenza (Seasonal Flu)
If you have
influenza, you can expect the illness to go away on
its own in about 7 to 10 days. In the meantime, you can take steps to feel
- Get extra rest. Bed rest can help you feel
better. It will also help you avoid spreading the virus to others.
Drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost from fever. Fluids also ease a
scratchy throat and keep nasal mucus thin. Water, soup, fruit
juice, and hot tea with lemon are all good choices.
- If fever is uncomfortable, sponge your body with
lukewarm water to reduce fever. Do not use cold water or ice. Lowering the
fever will not make your symptoms go away faster, but it may make you more
comfortable. You may also take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to lower fever. Follow all instructions on the label. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
- Over-the-Counter Medicine Precautions
- Quick Tips: Giving Over-the-Counter Medicines to Children
- To relieve body aches and headache, take
acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- To help clear a stuffy nose, breathe moist air from a hot
shower or from a sink filled with hot water.
- Try a
decongestant if your main symptom is a
stuffy nose. Look for a single-ingredient decongestant that contains
phenylephrine. If nasal drainage is thick, a decongestant that contains
guaifenesin may help keep it thin and draining. Before you use these medicines, check the label. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Do not use medicated nasal
sprays or drops more often than directed, and don't use them for longer than 3
- Avoid antihistamines.
They do not treat flu symptoms and may make nasal drainage
- If the skin around your nose and lips becomes sore from
repeated rubbing with tissues, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to the area.
Using disposable tissues that contain lotion also may help.
cough drops or plain, hard candy to help ease coughing.
- If you have a dry, hacking cough, you can try an over-the counter cough medicine with dextromethorphan. Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.
- Elevate your head at night with an extra pillow if
coughing keeps you awake.
- Avoid smoking and breathing secondhand smoke. This is good
advice anytime, but it is especially important when you have a respiratory
infection like a cold or the flu.
Call your doctor if:
- Your symptoms improve but then seem to get
- You have symptoms of a bacterial infection, such as
a new or worse cough that produces yellow, green, rust-colored, or bloody
mucus; persistent fever, ear pain, sore throat, sinus pain, or productive
cough; or nasal drainage that changes from clear to colored after 7 to 10
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Christine Hahn, MD - Epidemiology
July 9, 2012
©1995-2012, Healthwise, Incorporated, P.O. Box 1989, Boise, ID 83701.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information,
How this information was developed.