What to do if you get influenza (the flu)
The ideal treatment for seasonal influenza is very simple: stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food. If your symptoms get worse or if you are at risk of influenza complications, contact your health care provider. Limit your contact with others, especially the elderly, people with weakened immune systems and chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, and young children, until you are free of symptoms and feeling well.
More tips on how to take care of yourself and your family:
- Take medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen for fever and pain, if necessary. Check the manufacturer’s directions. Do not give aspirin to anyone under 18 years of age, due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome.
- Gargle with salt water to relieve a sore throat.
- Over-the-counter remedies may relieve fever and pain and soothe coughing. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
- Wash your hands thoroughly every time you blow your nose and cough.
- Dispose of used tissues immediately.
- Do not go to work or school as long as you have flu-like symptoms, because you will spread the virus to others.
How long am I contagious?
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others, beginning one day before symptoms develop and for many days after becoming sick. Children may pass on the virus to others for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one-to-four days after the virus enters the body.
When to visit a doctor/clinic
Persons at high risk of complications from influenza-like illness should seek medical attention promptly. This includes pregnant women, children under five, people with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, those with compromised immune systems, and seniors over 65. If you get flu-like symptoms and are otherwise healthy, you should stay home to recover.
You should see a doctor when:
- your symptoms are severe;
- you have trouble breathing;
- you cough up green or brown secretions;
- you display symptoms other than those for influenza;
- you do not feel better after five-to-seven days; or
- your fever has lasted more than three days.
How long should I stay home?
Stay home from work if you are sick, and keep your children home from school if they have flu-like symptoms. If you or your family goes out while sick, you may spread your illness to co-workers, classmates, neighbours or others. It may take you or your family longer to get better if you are not well-rested. Wait until the fever has subsided and you or your family members are well enough to resume normal activities.