You Have the Flu…Now What?!

You were hoping it was just a cold, but with the fever and body aches you are experiencing, you are now certain it is the flu. What do you do now?

  1. Stay away from other people. If you are able, stay in one room of your home, and keep everyone else out. If one of your kids is sick, limit contact to one person as much as possible … usually the mother because we get to do all the dirty work. Cover your mouth when you cough and wash your hands religiously.
  2. Keep your home ventilated and use a humidifier. The flu virus prefers dry air, and will die sooner in more humid environments.
  3. If you were diagnosed within a couple of days, your doctor can prescribe an antiviral which will help to decrease the symptoms and shorten the duration of your illness.
  4. Rest. Drink lots of fluids and if you can eat, choose only healthy foods. Avoid sugar, boost your immune system with vitamin C and zinc.
  5. Use steam to open clogged sinuses, cough drops for sore throat, and cough medicine if you are need it. Take ibuprofen or tylenol around the clock for fever and body aches.
  6. See your doctor if you or your child:
    – are short of breath
    – are wheezing
    – have chest pain
    – have a fever that is prolonged and does not respond to medication
    – is extremely lethargic, confused or disoriented
  7. When you are feeling better, remember you are still contagious for a few days. Be kind to family and friends and be extra careful about not infecting those you come in contact with.

The response to hearing the tragic news of people dying from the flu is often bewilderment, “From the FLU?! How does that even happen?”

Here is how it happens: The flu virus attaches itself to your respiratory cells. Your body, recognizing it as foreign, launches an all out attack. It raises your body’s temperature, it elicits a cough response, it floods your system with immune cells whose job it is to get rid of the bad guys. The inflammation that results can be so overwhelming, respiratory failure ensues, and sometimes even the best modern medicine can offer is not good enough. In other cases, secondary infections occur. The flu makes your body more susceptible to bacteria that cause pneumonia, and again, the pneumonia can be so severe, the patient cannot be saved. It is an awful truth, but a good reminder to take the flu (and containing it) very seriously.


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.


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