Influenza, commonly known as the ‘Flu’, is a contagious viral infection that affects the nose, throat and lungs. The best way to avoid getting the flu is by getting a yearly flu shot. For more information on the flu vaccine, visit Flu Shot FAQs.
Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some might have diarrhea and vomiting.
When there are a number of patients infected with the flu, it creates a problem for health care providers. There are not enough appointments in the day to see all the patients who seem to have the flu. Unfortunately, for most patients, there is little that can be done to ease the symptoms. It can be very beneficial for health care providers to assess those that are at a higher risk.
It is expected that most people will recover without needing medical care. There are many over-the-counter medicines (decongestants, cough preparations, etc.) you could use without needing to see a provider that could ease the symptoms you are experiencing.
Fever and body aches can often be lessened with the use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) or NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin). Check all labels and use over-the-counter medications as directed.
Resting as much as possible, as well as eating healthily, can assist your body in healing itself. (Yes, chicken soup is a good option.) Increasing fluids helps especially for those with coughs, congestion and fever. Cough drops can also help ease the pain of a sore throat and a cough.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people and if you are sick, stay away from other people as much as you can. You may be ill for a week or longer. You should stay home and keep away from others as much as possible, including avoiding travel and not going to work, school or church.
The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
You should contact your instructors by email letting them know you believe you have the flu. Although it is not required for you to present a sick note to them from a doctor, they may or may not be able to make accommodations for your illness. You must be prepared to do as much as is required even though you are ill. (That is unfortunate, but the reality.)
Employers should be contacted as well. If your employer is requiring a sick note from a doctor explaining your absence, our providers are willing to provide one for you.
Viral illnesses can take some time to resolve. As long as you follow the advice above, you will improve. The common cold can take about 7-12 days to resolve, and influenza can take up to 3 weeks. Those with a cough may find that the cough persists a while after all the other symptoms have resolved.
If you felt like you were getting better but suddenly get worse, you should seek treatment immediately.
Check the BYU-Idaho website (www.byui.edu/fighttheflu) for links to more helpful information.