Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

The Flu and You: Your Urgent Response Guide

Try these step-by-step tips for the first 5 days with the flu.

Day 3 With the Flu

Some of the sufferer’s flu symptoms, like a cough, may be abating by now. (You can use a cough suppressant for adults and kids over age 6 if it’s still troublesome.) The fever is probably still over 100, though, and muscle aches can last for days.

If you notice any major change in symptoms, such as a serious spike in fever or shortness of breath, call your doctor.

"High spiking fevers and shortness of breath may signal a bacterial complication like pneumonia, sinusitis, or an ear infection, which can develop on top of the flu in a small number of people," says Holman.

Day 4 With the Flu

By now, both you and your flu sufferer are probably wondering: "When can I get out of here?" When is it OK for someone who's had the flu to go back to work or school?

When it comes to seasonal flu, use your symptoms as a guide. "Usually after most of the symptoms are gone -- the fever, the cough, and the muscle aches," says Holman. "You're probably well enough to go out at that point, and you're likely not particularly contagious. Viral shedding in respiratory secretions peaks at one to two days of illness, and really drops off after that. You may still have some residual fatigue for a few days after the other symptoms subside, but if that's the only symptom, it's probably OK to start resuming your activities."

You should limit contact with others while sick and stay home until fever is completely gone for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication).

Day 5 With the Flu

Think about getting the seasonal flu vaccine for the family. If you haven't gotten vaccinated yet, this is an excellent time to do it -- while you still remember how miserable the flu can be. (Because there are different strains of flu, you can get the flu more than once in a year.) The 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccine covers three strains of flu, including the H1N1 swine flu.

It takes about two weeks for the seasonal flu vaccine's protection to kick in, so "sooner rather than later" is a good rule. Flu season stretches from fall to spring, so even if you haven't gotten the vaccine by early winter, you still need the protection.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat