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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Flu Survival Kit: A Self-Care Kit for Your Home

Keep these medicines and remedies on hand in case the flu bug bites.
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What to Get: Options include decongestants in pill or oral forms such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Contac) and phenylephrine (such as Sudafed). Some states require you to talk to a pharmacist before buying over-the-counter medications with pseudoephedrine, as the drug is used in illegal production of methamphetamine.

What They Do, How to Use Them: Decongestants help in your surviving-the-flu efforts by narrowing blood vessels in the nose lining, reducing blood flow to the area and allowing swollen tissue to shrink and air to flow more easily.

Thermometer to Check for Fever From the Flu

What to Get: Options include a standard mercury thermometer, a digital oral or ear thermometer, or, for infants, a rectal thermometer.

What to Know, How to Use Them: Taking your temperature can help you keep tabs on your fever.  "With flu, 100.4 degrees or higher is generally regarded as a fever," Roberts says. For better accuracy, don't take your temperature right after drinking hot or cold liquids, he says.

"The oral digital models are better generally than the ear models," Roberts says. In one study, researchers compared ear and rectal thermometers in children and found that ear thermometers failed to diagnose fever in three or four of every 10 children with a fever. Another study found that 5% to 31% of children with fever were misdiagnosed as not having a fever when ear thermometers were used.

Fluids to Rehydrate When You Have the Flu

What to Get: Options include plain water, bottled water, sports-rehydrating drinks, children's rehydrating drinks such as Pedialyte, ginger ale, flat soda, and chicken soup. Surviving the flu is more comfortable if you stay hydrated.

What to Know, How to Take Them: When you are battling the flu, aim to drink enough fluids to make your urine clear or light yellow, which indicates proper hydration, suggests pharmacist Vibhuti Arya. Ginger ale or flat soda can help calm stomach upset, says Arroyo. "Stay away from milk and orange juice," King suggests, "because with the flu you tend to have nausea and milk and citrus can aggravate nausea."  

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