18 July 2008

Most healthy people recover from the flu without complications. If you get the flu :
  • Stay home and bed rest until symptoms are gone, it is not advisable to go back to full activity.
  • Drink plenty of liquids and nutrition (avoid using alcohol and tobacco), eat healthy food and lots of fruits; are necessary for rapid recovery and to prevent dehydration.
  • There are over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve the symptoms of the flu
  • Remember that serious illness from the flu is more likely in certain groups of people including people 65 and older, pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions and young children.
  • Consult your doctor early on for the best treatment, but also be aware of emergency warning signs that require urgent medical attention.
Emergency Warning Signs

In children, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include :
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include :
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
Seek medical care immediately (call your doctor or go to an emergency room) if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the signs above. When you arrive, tell the reception staff that you think you have the flu. You may be asked to wear a mask and/or sit in a separate area to protect others from getting sick.

Treatment
Over-the-counter medications can minimize discomfort associated with flu symptoms, but these medications do not treat the virus infection. Congestion, cough and nasal discharge are best treated with a decongestant, antihistamine, or in combination. There are many over-the-counter flu remedies that contain both of these ingredients.
There are effective treatments that can reduce the duration of the suffering caused by the flu. See your doctor within 2 days of when flu symptoms appear to find out which treatments are right for you.

The following four antiviral medications are available to treat the influenza virus :
  • Oseltamivir (brand name: Tamiflu®)
  • Zanamivir (brand name: Relenza®)
  • Amantadine (brand name: Symmetrel®)
  • Rimantadine (brand name: Flumadine®)
Time is of the essence! Starting treatment with these medications within 2 days after flu symptoms appear will reduce the length of the illness and the severity of symptoms by at least 1 day. Early treatment can lead to faster results, enabling you to resume daily activities in a shorter amount of time.

NOTE: Tell your doctor if you have a chronic lung disease (asthma) because some precautions may be necessary if zanamivir is prescribed. You may need to have a fast-acting reliever bronchodilator in case you have difficulty breathing If that happens, call your doctor and stop taking zanamivir

NOTE: Aspirin should not be used in children under 18 years old because it may play a role in causing Reye Syndrome, a rare but severe liver and central nervous system condition.

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