Flu Treatment

Most people with the flu will recover on their own at home with rest, over-the-counter medicine, and plenty of fluids. But some people will develop serious complications and need to seek medical care.

Even during the pandemic, you can safely seek care for the flu at UPMC.

“The doctors’ offices, the hospitals, your health care providers, we’re all taking COVID-19 very seriously,” says Marian Michaels, MD, of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

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When to Seek Medical Care for the Flu

Most people who have the flu experience mild illness and can recover at home. Common flu symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue

If you believe you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, contact your UPMC primary care doctor. You may be scheduled for an in-person or video visit.

You can book several types of telemedicine care online:

“When anybody has any signs of illness, really, you want to keep them home,” Dr. Michaels says. “You want to make sure they’re having good hydration, keeping those fluids going … even using acetomorphine or ibuprofen for achiness or for the low-grade fevers. And then talk to your health care provider as well.”

People who are experiencing emergency flu symptoms, including difficulty breathing, chest and/or abdominal pain, and severe vomiting, should not hesitate to go to the emergency department of a hospital or an urgent care center.

How UPMC Protects You During In-Person Care

The health care providers and staff at UPMC understand the concerns people may have when seeking care during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we follow strict protocols and cleaning procedures at all UPMC facilities, including:

  • Screening patients for exposure to COVID-19 and its symptoms
  • Requiring all UPMC staff to wear personal protective equipment to protect you and themselves
  • Requiring all patients, staff, and essential guests to wear facemasks in all public areas
  • Restricting visitors, support persons, and volunteers to only those who must be present
  • Cleaning all rooms and surfaces of the hospital regularly with safe, effective disinfectants

“If you need to come in, you shouldn’t be afraid to come in,” Dr. Michaels says. “We have greeters when everyone comes in to ask questions about exposures and symptoms, we have everyone getting their temperature taken, and certainly remembering to wear a mask when you’re in public.”

How to Reduce Your Risk of Getting the Flu

The best way to prevent the flu is to get the annual flu vaccination.

The flu shot cannot guarantee you won’t catch the flu, but it substantially reduces your risk. Even if you do catch flu after getting a flu shot, you will likely have milder symptoms.

Talk to your doctor about receiving the flu vaccine. It may take about 2 weeks for your body to build immunity to the flu after getting the vaccine. Remember: It’s never too late to get the flu vaccine.

This year it will be more important than ever to get your flu shot because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The flu shot cannot prevent COVID-19, but it might prevent you from having the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. The flu vaccine reduces the risk of complications from flu, so it’s less likely you’ll go to the hospital during a pandemic.

Other ways to reduce your risk of getting the flu include following standard hygiene and infection prevention guidelines:

  • Regularly wash your hands, especially before and after touching your face
  • Use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if you cannot wash your hands
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible
  • Wear a face covering in public places and around other people, especially when indoors
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and drink plenty of fluids each day
Sources

Caring for Someone Sick, Influenza (Flu), National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2020-2021 Season, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

Seasonal Flu Shot, Influenza (Flu),National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Do the Flu Vaccines Work?, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

About UPMC

A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.