No one wants to get the flu but it’s the most common sickness to get, especially during October through March. The first thing everyone wants to know when they get the flu is how soon it will go away. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that: it varies for everyone, but flu symptoms will generally last between 3 and 10 days.
If you do come down with the flu, there are several steps you should take to start feeling better and protect those around you from also catching it.
Step 1: Go Home
If you develop flu symptoms like, fever/chills, aches/pains, coughing, congestion, headache, vomiting and diarrhea go home. You shouldn’t be around other people when you're sick, because you will only spread the virus. The best thing you can do is to go home and get in bed to try to get as much rest as possible.
Step 2: Call Your Health Care Provider
When you develop flu symptoms or think you might have the flu, you should contact your health care provider within the first 48 hours. Contacting your health care provider as soon as possible to get a prescription for an antiviral medication, such as Tamiflu, if your health care provider feels that it would benefit you. The reason this contact needs to happen so quickly when you develop symptoms is that Tamiflu needs to be started within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms to be effective.
Step 3: Call Work/School
Call work or school and let them know you won't be able to come in for the next few days. Trying to work or go to school when you have the flu is ineffective, and you'll only expose other people to the virus. You should stay home as much as possible while you're sick, and definitely at least as long as you have a fever.
Most schools have policies that require students to stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever has subsided without the use of fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen). Although it may not be a rule for a workplace, it's a good guideline to follow for adults as well: just because your fever is gone for a few hours doesn't mean you are better and healthy enough to be at work. Give yourself time to recover, and you will end up getting back to work faster in the long run.
Step 4: Get Prescription
There are hundreds of over-the-counter medications available that are marketed to treat your flu symptoms. Knowing which one is right for you can be confusing, to say the least. Combine that with the fact that many of them have changed formulations in recent years, and you might not even realize exactly what you're taking anymore.
You should always be aware of the symptoms you have, and the medication you take should treat only those symptoms. Taking a multi-symptom medication that treats symptoms you don't have is not only a waste, but it can cause unnecessary side effects and may sometimes be dangerous. You also want to avoid taking multiple medications that may contain the same or similar ingredients, because this can — and frequently does — lead to an overdose. One common ingredient that you want to watch for specifically is Tylenol (acetaminophen), which is included in many multi-symptom cold and flu medications, and people often take extra to reduce their fevers or aches and pains, not realizing that they're taking more than they should. Taking too much acetaminophen can be life threatening and lead to liver failure.
Pay attention to the ingredients in the medications you take.
If you prefer not to take traditional over-the-counter medications to relieve your flu symptoms, there are still things you can do to make yourself more comfortable while you're dealing with the flu. Get as much rest as possible, drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and run a humidifier to keep your airways moist and make breathing easier.
Step 5: Watch for complications
Unfortunately, suffering through some miserable symptoms is something you just can't avoid if you get the flu. There is no magic pill that will cure it in a matter of hours, and the symptoms are often debilitating.
You should also keep in mind these warning signs of a medical emergency while you have the flu so you will know whether or not you need to go to the hospital with your flu symptoms.
Knowing what to do when you get the flu may not make having it any easier, but it will ensure that you follow the steps you need to get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible.
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