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Influenza (the flu) is an infection caused by the influenza virus. The flu is easily spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or has close contact with others. You may be able to spread the flu to others for 1 week or longer after signs or symptoms appear.



You may need any of the following:

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask your healthcare provider how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.

  • NSAIDs help decrease pain and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

  • Antivirals are given to fight an infection caused by a virus.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Get more rest and sleep. Rest and sleep may help you get better faster when you have the flu.

  • Drink more liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. This can help prevent dehydration.

Prevent the spread of influenza:

  • Wash your hands often. Use soap and water. Use gel hand cleanser when there is no soap and water available. Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you have washed your hands first.

  • Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Cough into a tissue or your shirtsleeve so you do not spread germs.

  • Clean shared items. Clean table surfaces, doorknobs, and light switches with a germ-killing cleaner. Do not share towels, silverware, or dishes with people who are sick. Wash bed sheets, towels, silverware, and dishes with soap and water.

  • Wear a face mask over your mouth and nose if you have the flu or are near anyone who has the flu. Ask where to buy single-use masks.

  • Stay home if you are sick. Stay away from others as much as possible while you recover.

  • Get an influenza vaccine to help prevent the flu. Everyone older than age 6 months should get a yearly influenza vaccine. Get the vaccine as soon as it is available, usually in October or November each year.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.

  • You have new symptoms, such as muscle pain or weakness.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You are dizzy, or you are urinating less or not at all.

  • You have a seizure.

  • You have a headache with a stiff neck, and you feel very tired or confused.

  • You have trouble breathing, and your lips look purple or blue.

  • You have new pain or pressure in your chest.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Influenza (Discharge Care)