Dealing with the Flu

What to Do

1. Influenzas can cause us all to have a miserable time. There are numerous types of influenza viruses that can cause symptoms of fever, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, cough etc. In the past year, the most famous influenza is H1N1 but there are many types of influenzas. In a large organization such as the University of Lethbridge, we ask the entire community to ensure the health of all through some tips on what to do when you are ill with influenza-type symptoms.

2. Viruses attach to the cells that line the nose and throat or the lower respiratory tract and multiply. Viruses can be spread through someone else coughing or sneezing without covering the sputum (it can be sprayed MANY feet through a sneeze) but the most common way of viruses spreading are through contact with a hard object that has the virus on it through an infected person touching or sneezing. Covering your coughs and sneezes are a must- so it frequent cleaning of surfaces around you if you are ill. HANDWASHING IS A KEY TO PREVENT FLUS.

3. Illness can last for 2-7 days. The person should be STAYING AT HOME and dealing with their symptoms. The aches and pains we associate with the flu are actually a sign that the body is fighting the infection. A mild fever is also a sign that the body is fighting the virus. Other symptoms can include: sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, muscle aches, low grade fever, headache, loss of appetite, cough etc.

4. Over the counter medications can be helpful. Ibuprofen or Tylenol can be used for fever and muscle aches. An antihistamine can ease congestion, and cough medication can also be helpful. Your pharmacist can help you choose the right medication for your symptoms.

5. Self-Help tips also including:

  • drinking lots of liquids such as water or juice or herbal teas
  • eating soup and drinking hot liquids can ease nasal congestion
  • take a long, warm bath or shower to relieve congestion or cough (if you have a fever though, make sure it is a lukewarm shower or bath to bring down your temperature)
  • wash your hands frequently to be less contagious to those around you, cover your cough and sneezes
  • clean your shared living areas like kitchen and bathrooms to prevent passing this on
  • get plenty of rest.

6. A person can seek medical care IF they believe they are dehydrated, the symptoms become more severe over time, or if a medical condition affects their ability to fight infections. Most people are told to STAY home, maintain hydration, maintain cleanliness of their shared bathrooms and kitchen items and wait for symptoms to decrease on their own. Antibiotics are NOT effective for viruses but sometimes bacterial infections can occur concurrently so if you suspect a strep throat infection or sinus infection, please get medical assessment.. Dehydration can occur with prolonged episodes of symptoms where the person is not drinking fluids, therefore drinking fluids is a must during a flu illness. Other symptoms of when to seek help include: symptoms getting worse throughout the illness, a very high or persistent fever, if you have a SEVERE headache, if you have asthma or other immune system problem affecting your illness.

7. Get medical care if you need it. You can call the University of Lethbridge Health Centre at 403.329.2484 to talk with a nurse about your symptoms and we can direct you to a local clinic. Illness notes will be provided to you ONLY FOR ILLNESSES SEEN BY CLINIC STAFF. Unless you have certain severe symptoms, seeing a physician is not always necessary but there are several clinics around town that have walk-in clinic hours. Be aware that some charge for illness notes.

8. You can call Healthlink at 1-866-408-5465 if you have questions. You may be directed to the Hospital Emergency unit if you believe yourself to be dehydrated, or the illness is severe.