INFLUENZA 101

By Marichelle B. Cirunay, BSN,RN Infection Preventionist, Hebrew Health Care

Symptoms?

  • A 100oF or higher fever or feeling feverish (not everyone with the flu has a fever)

  • A cough and/or sore throat

  • A runny or stuffy nose

  • Headaches and/or body aches

  • Chills

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

Prevention?

* VACCINATION

Do I have the flu or a cold?

The flu and the common cold have similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell the difference between them. Your health care provider can give you a test within the first few days of your illness to determine whether or not you have the flu.

In general, the flu is worse than the common cold. Symptoms such as fever, body aches, tiredness, and cough are more common and intense with the flu. People with colds are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose.

When should I seek emergency medical attention?

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

  • Purple or blue discoloration of the lips

  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen

  • Sudden dizziness

  • Confusion

  • Severe or persistent vomiting

  • Seizures

  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with the flu, you should stay home and follow your health care provider’s recommendations. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about over-the-counter and prescription medications to ease flu symptoms and help you feel better faster.

  • You can treat flu symptoms with and without medication.

  • Over-the-counter medications may relieve some flu symptoms but will not make you less contagious.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe antiviral medications to make your illness milder and prevent serious complications.

  • Your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics if your flu has progressed to a bacterial infection.

Are there ways to treat the flu or its symptoms without medication?

You can treat flu symptoms without medication by:

  • Getting plenty of rest

  • Drinking clear fluids like water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages to prevent becoming dehydrated

  • Placing a cool, damp washcloth on your forehead, arms, and legs to reduce discomfort associated with a fever

  • Putting a humidifier in your room to make breathing easier

  • Gargling salt water (1:1 ratio warm water to salt) to soothe a sore throat

  • Covering up with a warm blanket to calm chills

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