Influenza

What is Influenza

Influenza is also called “the flu.” It is an infection in the lungs, nose, and throat (respiratory tract). It is caused by a virus. The flu causes symptoms that are similar to symptoms of a cold. It also causes a high fever and body aches.

The flu spreads easily from person to person (is contagious). Getting a flu shot (influenza vaccination) every year is the best way to prevent the flu.

Follow these instructions at home:

Activity

  • Rest as needed. Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay home from work or school as told by your doctor.
    • Do not leave home until you do not have a fever for 24 hours without taking medicine.
    • Leave home only to visit your doctor.

Eating and drinking

  • Take an oral rehydration solution (ORS). This is a drink that is sold at pharmacies and stores.
  • Drink clear fluids in small amounts as you are able. Clear fluids include:
    • Water.
    • Ice chips.
    • Fruit juice that has water added (diluted fruit juice).
    • Low-calorie sports drinks.
  • Eat bland, easy-to-digest foods in small amounts as you are able. These foods include:
    • Bananas.
    • Applesauce.
    • Rice.
    • Lean meats.
    • Toast.
    • Crackers.
  • Do not eat or drink:
    • Fluids that have a lot of sugar or caffeine.
    • Alcohol.
    • Spicy or fatty foods.

General instructions

  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee (urine) pale yellow.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. This can make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you cannot use soap and water, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your doctor. This is important.

How is this prevented?

  • Get a flu shot every year. You may get the flu shot in late summer, fall, or winter. Ask your doctor when you should get your flu shot.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick during fall and winter (cold and flu season).

Contact a doctor if:

  • You get new symptoms.
  • You have:
    • Chest pain.
    • Watery poop (diarrhea).
    • Fever.
  • Your cough gets worse.
  • You start to have more mucus.
  • You feel sick to your stomach (nauseous).
  • You throw up (vomit).

Get help right away if you:

  • Have shortness of breath.
  • Have trouble breathing.
  • Have skin or nails that turn a bluish color.
  • Have very bad pain or stiffness in your neck.
  • Get a sudden headache.
  • Get sudden pain in your face or ear.
  • Cannot eat or drink without throwing up.

Summary

  • Influenza (“the flu”) is an infection in the lungs, nose, and throat. It is caused by a virus.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • Getting a yearly (annual) flu shot is the best way to avoid getting the flu.
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