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Body aches, fever, cough, chills, fatigue, a sore throat, headaches and a stuffy nose are all telltale signs that you may have the flu. In most instances, staying at home and self-medicating with over the counter (OTC) medications is sufficient. But there will be times when antiviral drugs and seeing a doctor is necessary. If you suspect you have the flu and you’re in a high risk group, contact your healthcare provider. You may also need to get to the emergency room if you develop adverse symptoms. Here’s what to do if you get the flu.
Self-Medicating When You Have The Flu
If your symptoms are less severe, there are means of treating the flu without seeing a physician. This may include getting plenty of rest to help regain your strength. If you’ve developed a fever with aching muscles, take some ibuprofen or acetaminophen for relief.
Don’t forget to wash your hands often to kill the virus and prevent the spread thereof. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids such as chicken broth, juices, sports beverages, or water. This will hydrate your respiratory system and convert phlegm into a thinner easier to cough up liquid. You could also wear layers to keep warm, which is also convenient to peel off if you become feverish.
Contact Your Healthcare Provider
If you’re in a high-risk category, it’s always advisable to contact your doctor. High risk individuals include those over 65 years, toddlers, and young children, and those with preexisting medical conditions. If you develop the flu here, your condition may worsen if left untreated. Be sure to see your doctor if you are asthmatic, have kidney or liver disorders, or heart disease. You should also seek medical care if you’re a diabetic, have cystic fibrosis, or chronic lung disease.
A trip to the physician is also necessary if your immune system has been compromised with cancer, HIV/Aids, or if you’re using chronic steroids. Please see your physician if you’re younger than 19 years and have been on aspirin for an extended time. If you’re obese with a Body Mass Index (BMI) in excess of 40, you may also need medical care.
Watch Out for Potential Complications
Receiving medical attention is of utmost importance if you suffer from a pre-existing chronic condition. If you have asthma the flu may cause additional inflammation in your airways, which may worsen your symptoms, or develop into pneumonia. Medical care if you’re diabetic is crucial as the flu virus may raise your blood glucose levels. Neglecting to manage your insulin levels adequately with flu can lead to a coma and possible death.
It’s also advisable to get your flu shots if you have heart disease, as you may be at an increased risk of developing respiratory issues, heart failure, pneumonia or death. Be sure to avoid the flu shot that’s administered as a nasal spray, as this is not recommended for those with a heart condition.
If you have kidney disease or have had a kidney transplant, be sure to have your flu shot prior to the flu season. If you’re a transplant patient, opt for the normal flu injection, and not Flumist, which is a nasal mist vaccine. Try to eat a balanced diet, and if you have gastrointestinal flu, take Immodium to help relieve your diarrhea. If you are on a diuretic and you have diarrhea, it’s advisable to stop taking the diuretic. Be sure to monitor your temperature if possible, and report any concerns to your doctor. It’s also vital that you avoid non-steroidal medications and opt for aspirin, which is safe to take.