What To Do If You Get the Flu

When are you contagious?
A person who is sick with the flu can spread viruses. That means they are contagious. Adults are usually contagious from one day before having symptoms to seven days after getting sick. Children can be contagious for longer than seven days.

What to do if you get sick with the flu:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Don’t use alcohol or tobacco.
  • Stay home from work or school to protect others from catching your illness.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue every time you cough or sneeze.
  • Take medication to lessen the symptoms, like Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen). DO NOT use aspirin.

Call Health Services right away if your flu symptoms are very serious.

Emergency Warning Signs for Adults
Call Health Services if you have any of these symptoms.

  • High or prolonged fever
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest
  • Near-fainting or fainting
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

If you are at special risk from complications of the flu, call as soon as symptoms begin.
People at special risk of flu complications include:

  • People age 65 or older
  • People of any age with chronic medical conditions
  • Pregnant women
  • Young children

Complications of flu include pneumonia, bronchitis, dehydration, and sinus and ear infections. The flu can make chronic health problems worse.

Antiviral Drugs
In some cases, your health care provider may choose to use certain antiviral drugs to treat the flu. Influenza is caused by a virus, so antibiotics don’t work to cure it. Antiviral treatment lasts for five days and must be started within two days of the illness.

Influenza-like Illness
There are other respiratory viruses, including rhinovirus (one cause of the “common cold”) that can spread during the flu season and cause symptoms and illnesses similar to the flu.