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Are You Sure It's the Flu?

Here are signs and symptoms of the flu, and steps to take to keep from getting sick or pass along germs to someone else.

Fever, body aches, a sore throat. These are the classic signs of flu, right?

Yes, though not everyone with flu gets a fever. Patients also can expect to be  extremely tired, cough, have a runny or stuffy nose and vomit. Diarrhea is more common in children. 

What to do if you get the flu

If someone in the household does come down with the flu, the Red Cross has this advice:

  • Designate one person as the caregiver and have the other household members avoid close contact with that person so they won't become sick.
  • Make sure the person stays at home and rests until 24 hours after the fever is gone.
  • Designate a sick room for the person if possible. If there is more than one sick person, they can share the sick room if needed. If there is more than one bathroom, designate one for those who are sick to use. Give each sick person their own drinking glass, washcloth and towel.
  • Keep the following either in the sick room or near the person: tissues, a trash can lined with a plastic trash bag, alcohol-based hand rub, a cooler or pitcher with ice and drinks, a thermometer and a cup with straw or squeeze bottle to help with drinking. A humidifier will provide extra moisture, making it easier for the sick person to breathe.
  • Sick people should wear a facemask, if available, when they leave the sick room or are around others.
  • Give plenty of liquids (water and other clear liquids) at the first sign of flu and continue throughout the illness. People with the flu need to drink extra fluids to keep from getting dehydrated.
  • Treat fever and cough with medicines that can be purchased at the store.
  • Remember, when children are ill they should never be given aspirin or products containing aspirin - especially with the flu.
  • If the person gets very sick, is pregnant or has a medical condition (like asthma) that puts them at higher risk of flu complications, call their doctor. They may need to be examined.
  • Keep everyone's personal items separate. All household members should avoid sharing pens, papers, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils unless cleaned between uses.
  • Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
  • Wash everyone's dishes in the dishwasher or by hand using very hot water and soap.
  • Wash everyone's clothes in a standard washing machine. Use detergent and very hot water, tumble dry on a hot dryer setting and wash hands after handling dirty laundry.
  • Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.

For more information

1.) You should still get a flu shot

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting someone against flu viruses. Here are five local places to get your flu shot.

2.) Take steps to prevent the flu, including:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing,
  • Throw the tissue away after use. If a tissue isn't available, cough or sneeze into the elbow, not the hands.
  • Wash hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand-rub.
  • Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you're sick.

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