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.
Person to Person
The main way that influenza viruses are thought to spread is from person to
person in respiratory droplets of coughs and sneezes. (This is called "droplet
spread.") This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected
person are propelled through the air and deposited on the mouth or nose of
people nearby. Influenza viruses may also be spread when a person touches
respiratory droplets on another person or an object and then touches their own
mouth or nose (or...
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.
Fever and pain relievers
Cough syrups and drops
(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.)
Fever and Pain Relievers for Flu Symptoms
What to Get: Choose ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen
(Tylenol) or naproxen (Aleve), suggests Richard Roberts, MD, JD, a family
physician in Belleville, Wis., and a member of the American Academy of Family
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.)
Pay heed to the manufacturers' warnings about maximum doses, says Vibhuti
Arya, PharmD, a resident at the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy,
Minneapolis, and a media spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association.
Never take a higher dose without checking first with your doctor or pharmacist.
(Higher doses than what is recommended by the manufacturer may be acceptable
for a short period of time, but only with your doctor’s approval, she