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So You’ve Got the Flu…Now What?

Flu season is upon us and it seems like everywhere we turn, there’s another person feeling under the weather. No matter how hard we try, sometimes all of the precautions that we take just aren’t enough to avoid the virus. Even if you’ve had your annual flu shot, there’s a chance you catch the flu. While it may lessen the severity of your illness, being sick with the flu is never enjoyable.

The flu comes with that run-down, sniffly, don’t-want-to-get -out-of-bed misery that you just can’t shake for days. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, including:

The flu can last for several days and can make it hard to focus on much besides shaking off the virus.

So what happens when you fall victim to the flu? Follow the tips below to help manage your flu symptoms and reduce the risk of spreading your illness to others.

  • Get anti-viral medication such as Tamiflu®. It’s important to catch the flu early, and if you’re successful in doing so, anti-viral medications, prescribed by your doctor, can help to lessen your symptoms and get you on the road to recovery faster. These medications are especially helpful for groups that are more susceptible to complications from the flu including children younger than 2, the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised individuals. In order for Tamiflu to be effective, it must be taken within a day or two of your flu symptoms.
  • Take over-the-counter medication to help alleviate your symptoms. If anti-viral meds are inaccessible to you, over-the-counter medications can be of use. Medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help to lower your fever and relieve your aches and pains. You can also opt for decongestants and antihistamines to ease your cold-like symptoms.

*If you’re taking over-the-counter medicine to relieve symptoms associated with the flu, be sure to review all active ingredients of any medication that you take. Many cold and flu meds already contain acetaminophen/ibuprofen, so it’s important to pay attention, so you don’t over medicate.

  • Get plenty of rest. Miss those daytime naps from when you were a kid? Now’s your chance to indulge again! It’s imperative to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep when you’re sick, so try your best to get a good night’s rest and sneak in a few naps if possible.
  • Increase fluid consumption in the form of water, broth, or sports drinks. Dehydration is a main side effect of flu symptoms, so you should be sure to consume plenty of liquids to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Ever heard of the old saying, “starve a fever, feed a cold?” Well, grandma missed the mark on that one. Anytime you’re sick it’s important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to help your body fight off your illness. Fruits, vegetables, and foods high in protein are great options.
  • Get comfy by turning on a humidifier to make breathing easier, or bundling up in a blanket to fend off your feverish chills.
  • Stay home, for the benefit of yourself and others. Unless you are seeking medical attention for severe flu symptoms, we recommend that you remain at home until at least 24 after your fever is gone. This will allow time for you to rest and keep you from spreading germs to others.

If you’ve come down with the flu and need to seek medical attention, UPMC Urgent Care is here to help. We’re open from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., 7 days a week and no appointment is necessary.

To find the center nearest to you, visit UPMC Urgent Care .