Do I Have the Flu?

Acute Respiratory Illness Advice
Adapted from American Family Physician 5/09 & CDC Web Site


Most people who have become sick with H1N1 virus have recovered at home without medication. Unless a patient is severely ill with influenza or suffering an exacerbation of a chronic illness, home care should be adequate. In fact, many people do not need to see a doctor.

Symptoms of flu include:
• Fever, usually over 100.5
• Headache
• Extreme Tiredness
• Dry Cough
• Sore Throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle aches
• Stomach symptoms: nausea, vomiting & diarrhea, are more common in children than adults

If you get sick: Stay home; get plenty of rest, drink plenty of clear fluids. Over the counter (OTC) medications may help alleviate flu symptoms.

Watch for Emergency Warning Signs:
• Difficulty Breathing
• Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
• Sudden Dizziness
• Confusion
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Unable to take adequate fluids, reduced urination
• Worsening fever

People in the following high risk categories need to be especially watchful for progression of the illness: Children under age 5, especially under age 2, Adults over age 65, Pregnant women, People with certain chronic medical illnesses or who are immunosuppressed, and those who require hospitalization.

Containment of the illness is paramount to stopping the spread of infection. Infected patients should avoid contact with others. The CDC recommends that infected patients should not go to work, school or other public places. Patients should stay home for an additional 24 hours after symptoms and fever have resolved. This may take up to 7 days. Everyone in the household should continue to wash their hands frequently and properly dispose of used tissues. Dishes may be washed in the dish washer or with hot soapy water.

Antiviral Medication (Tamiflu)

Anti-viral medication must be started early to be helpful. Medication begun after 48 hours is mostly ineffective. This medication can reduce the length of illness by one day and help avert some complications. It may also reduce spreading of the virus and reduce the complications of influenza. Not everyone who has the flu needs anti-viral medication. In order to prevent the development of resistant strains of the flu, the CDC has directed physicians to reserve the prescribing of these medications for people who are severely ill or who might be considered to be at high risk for complications.

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