If you're one of those people who brag, come flu season, that you "never, ever get sick," be aware: The odds may catch up to you. Every year, about 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get influenza, according to estimates from the CDC.
Taking certain antiviral drugs within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms can shorten the duration of the flu, but that involves recognizing you have the flu, getting in touch with your doctor, and going to the pharmacist before the 48 hours is up.
You can take all the precautions in the world, but sometimes the flu sneaks around your defenses. So what do you do when someone in your house has the flu -- or even swine flu?
To give you an idea, here's a countdown of five average days with the flu. Keep in mind that this rundown is based on a typical case of seasonalflu. There's still a lot we don't know about swine flu. But so far, its symptoms seem to be pretty similar to those of common seasonal flu viruses.
Just in case your number is up this year, consider assembling a simple home care kit for help in surviving the flu. If you are not only in denial but too busy to shop for a flu survival kit, take heart: it might just be an assembly job. "Most of the supplies are routine medicines you have in your medicine cabinet anyway," says Jim King, MD, a family physician in Selmer, Tenn., and president-elect of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Here’s a short list from King and other flu experts of what you may need to treat the most common flu symptoms: fever, headache, cough, muscle aches, sore throat, and runny or stuffy nose.
(Some caveats: Before giving any medicine to children; consult their pediatrician. Cold and cough syrups can be dangerous especially when given to children under 2 years old. Adults with chronic problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease should check in with their doctor or pharmacist before taking any flu remedy, too.)
What They Do, How to Use Them: All three types of medicine help reduce fever and pain from muscle aches that can accompany flu. Most people under-dose themselves with these medicines, Roberts says. For generally healthy adults with flu, he suggests alternating Tylenol with either ibuprofen and naproxen throughout the day (but not alternating between ibuprofen and naproxen, since they work the same way.)