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Common Ailments

Get Your Flu Shot at the Fall Immunization Clinic: November 4, 2010

Flu Information

What is it?
Influenza ("flu" for short) is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus. It usually sweeps through a community once a year infecting a large number of people within a short period of time.
How is it spread?
The flu virus lives in the nose and throat. Sneezing, nose blowing, kissing, coughing, sharing drinks and hand-to-hand contact spread the virus. Some people carry the flu virus in their respiratory tract and never show symptoms; however, these people may spread the virus to others.
What are the symptoms?
Flu symptoms are similar to those of a common cold but are usually more severe. Symptoms often come on quickly. They include:

- Fever
- Headache
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Dry cough
- Sometimes vomiting and diarrhea occur. Symptoms last 2-5 days.

What can you do?
Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. You must be prepared to let the flu run its course. There are a number of things you can do to feel better and help prevent spreading the infection.

REST: This is no time to be jogging, playing sports or working. Your body needs its strength to fight the virus. Do not tire yourself unnecessarily.

DRINK FLUIDS: Provided you drink plenty of high-calorie fluids, solid meals may be bypassed if you do not feel like eating. Fluids to consider include fruit juices, soups, gelatin and sodas.

DRESS APPROPRIATELY: Dress warmly when going outdoors. If chilled from fever, avoid bundling up as this may only increase your temperature.

TAKE IBUPROFEN 600-800 mg three times a day or ACETAMINOPHEN 650 mg. every 4-6 hours. This will help keep the fever down and minimize aches and pains. You should not take aspirin when you have the flu as cases of Reye's syndrome have been reported in persons who have taken aspirin when they have influenza.

PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE. To help stop the spread of germs, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Put your used tissue in the waste basket. Clean your hands after coughing or sneezing by washing with soap and water or by using an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Note: You may be asked to put on a surgical mask to protect others.
Consult health care personnel:

- If symptoms last longer than five days without improvement
- If symptoms get worse or new ones appear (i.e., yellow phlegm with cough, shortness of breath, earache, etc.).
- If you develop trouble breathing.
- If you have difficulty drinking fluids as described above.
- Anytime you are unsure of what to do.

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