What should I do if I get the flu?

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By: Pamela Wiltfang, PharmD, MPH, BA, CHES

It’s that time of year where Influenza is going around. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make your experience with the flu a little more bearable, and to prevent it spreading to other friends or loved ones.

Influenza is a viral infection, and cannot be treated by antibiotics. Oftentimes your body just needs time to fight off the virus, and most people who get the flu will have mild illness and will not need medical attention. In more severe cases a doctor may prescribe you antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu. These can work to make the illness milder, and decrease the amount of time that you are sick. Antivirals work best if they are started within 2 days of when you start to show symptoms of the flu, but can still be helpful if started later. If you are prescribed antivirals, follow your doctor’s direction for taking the drug.

The use of over the counter acetaminophen or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can help relieve some flu symptoms such as sore throat, headache, muscle ache, and fever. Decongestants such as pseudoephedrine can help relieve congestion symptoms, but shouldn’t be used if you have a history of high blood pressure or other heart problems. Antihistamines such as chlorpheniramine or diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can provide relief for a runny nose, but should be used with caution in people older than 65 due to side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, and dizziness. Always use the recommended dosage of over the counter medications, and check with your pharmacist if you have any questions or concerns.

In order to prevent the spread of the flu to your loved ones, make sure to take steps to prevent their exposure to the virus.

–  Limit contact to others as much as possible to avoid infecting them.

–   Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze either with a tissue or the corner of your elbow.

–   Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.

–  Disinfect all surfaces and objects that you have come into contact with that might be contaminated with the flu.

–  Stay home until at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.

–  In addition to the steps listed above, always remember to get your yearly flu shot to decrease the chances of being infected with the influenza virus.

If you have any other questions always feel free to ask your local NuCara Pharmacist.

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