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Flu Symptoms and Prevention

Get a flu shot every year


Updated July 27, 2006

What Are The Symptoms of The Flu?

The most commonly reported symptoms of the flu are fever, chills, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, as well as headache, muscle aches, and often extreme fatigue. People who get the flu may think they just have a cold. The flu will last longer and have more severe symptoms

The CDC recommends you contact your doctor if:

  • Your fever lasts; you may have a more serious infection.
  • You have breathing or heart problems or other serious health problems.
  • You are taking drugs to fight cancer or other drugs that weaken your own natural defenses against illness.
  • You feel sick and don't seem to be getting better.
  • You have a cough that begins to produce phlegm.
  • You are worried about your health.
While most people fully recover from the flu in one to two weeks, some people do develop more serious illness requiring hospitalization. The most serious complication of the flu is pneumonia. Pneumonia is especially serious for the elderly. In an average year, flu leads to about 20,000 deaths nationwide and many more hospitalizations.

Flu Treatment

Most milder cases of the flu will respond to the same treatment recommended for the common cold. Rest in bed, drink plenty of fluids (water, juices) and take a medication like Tylenol for aches and fever. Antibiotics should not be taken for the flu, the flu is a virus and antibiotics are not effective against viruses.

Antibiotics are not effective against flu viruses. Antiviral medications such as Tamiflum when taken within 48 hours after the onset of illness,can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms and fever. These drugs must be prescribed by a doctor.

The best treatment for the flu is prevention. Get a flu shot every year.
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