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Common Infections

What to Do if You Get the Flu

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Every fall, you probably hear people talking about the coming flu season, but might not give it another thought unless you actually get the flu. If you do get sick, knowing what to do can help you feel better faster.

Try these tips if you get the flu:

  • Drink lots of fluids. Juice, water, and soup are great ways to get fluids in. But avoid caffeinated drinks, which won’t hydrate you as well.
  • Get lots of sleep and take it easy. This is a great time to chill and catch up on your movie and TV watching without your mom or dad asking you to help out around the house!
  • Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever and aches. Over-the-counter cold or cough medicines may also relieve some flu symptoms. Don’t take aspirin or products containing aspirin, though, unless your doctor says it’s OK. Aspirin can put teens at greater risk of developing Reye syndrome, a serious illness that sometimes follows infection with the flu virus.
  • Wear layers. You might be cold one minute and hot the next, and wearing several layers — like a T-shirt, sweatshirt, and robe — makes it easy to add or remove clothes as needed.
  • Wash your hands frequently. You don’t want to spread the flu to everyone else, if you can help it. Also, avoid sharing cups and eating utensils with other people.

Most people who get the flu get better without having to see their doctor. But if your flu symptoms get worse, if you have a high temperature for more than a few days, if you have any trouble breathing, or if you seem to get better but then feel worse again, call your doctor right away.

And next time, get the flu vaccine so that you’re less likely to get the flu!

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014