Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

If you do come down with the flu, these measures may help ease your symptoms:

  • Drink plenty of liquids. Choose water, juice and warm soups to prevent dehydration.
  • Rest. Get more sleep to help your immune system fight infection.
  • Consider pain relievers. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others), to combat the achiness associated with influenza. Don't give aspirin to children or teens because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal condition.

Prevention

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone over the age of 6 months.

Each year's seasonal flu vaccine contains protection from the three or four influenza viruses that are expected to be the most common during that year's flu season. This year the vaccine is recommended as an injection only. The CDC no longer recommends nasal spray flu vaccinations because during the last three flu seasons, the spray has been relatively ineffective.

Controlling the spread of infection

The influenza vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, so it's also important to take measures such as these to reduce the spread of infection:

  • Wash your hands. Thorough and frequent hand-washing is an effective way to prevent many common infections. Or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren't readily available.
  • Contain your coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. To avoid contaminating your hands, cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow.
  • Avoid crowds. Flu spreads easily wherever people congregate — in child care centers, schools, office buildings, auditoriums and public transportation. By avoiding crowds during peak flu season, you reduce your chances of infection. And, if you're sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides so that you lessen your chance of infecting others.
Sept. 28, 2016
References
  1. Longo DL, et al., eds. Influenza. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://accessmedicine.com. Accessed Aug. 12, 2016.
  2. Frequently asked questions 2016-2017 influenza season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2016-2017.htm. Accessed Aug. 12, 2016.
  3. ACIP votes down use of LAIV for 2016-2017 flu season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/s0622-laiv-flu.html. Accessed Aug. 12, 2016.
  4. Dolin R. Clinical manifestations of seasonal influenza in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 12, 2016.
  5. Zachary KC. Treatment of seasonal influenza in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 12, 2016.
  6. Ferri FF. Influenza. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2017. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2017. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 12, 2016.
  7. The flu: What to do if you get sick. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm. Accessed Aug. 12, 2016.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, et al. Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: Recommendations of the advisory committee on immunization practices, United States, 2016-17 influenza season. MMWR. 2016;65:1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/rr/rr6505a1.htm?s_cid=rr6505a1_w. Accessed Aug. 26, 2016.