Commonly known as the flu, influenza is a viral infection of the nose, throat, and lungs which occurs almost every year, usually in the winter. These viruses cause more severe symptoms, and can cause more medical problems then a common cold virus. The elderly and those with chronic medical problems are more at risk for more severe flu symptoms or complications.
The flu virus is spread from person to person by droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air. It can also be spread on the hands of an infected person who has touched their mouth or nose as well.
Signs and Symptoms (Symptoms are sudden in onset, lasting 5 - 10 days)
- Chills and fever (often 101 to 103 degrees)
- General body aches
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- There are medications that your health care provider can prescribe which might make the symptoms of influenza less severe and not last as long. These medications need to be started within the first 48 hours of symptoms in order to be effective.
- If you have the Flu, you should not go to class until your fever, fatigue and all but mild symptoms have resolved.
- Eat well, (small frequent meals) with adequate fluid intake
- Get plenty of rest
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and wash your hands often with soap and water in order to prevent spreading germs to others.
- It is important to not share eating utensils, drinking glasses, water bottles or toothbrushes with others in order to prevent spreading germs to others.
- Lozenges or cough drops may soothe a sore or dry throat.
- Gargle with warm salt water to soothe a sore or dry throat.
- Take pain relievers for discomfort such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
- Use decongestants such as Sudafed or Mucinex D or a short term decongestant spray (no more then 72 hours)
- Try over the counter salt water (saline) nose drops or nasal sprays
- Don't smoke
- If symptoms continue to worsen, or no improvement is seen, you should be evaluated by a health care provider