If you get sick with influenza-like symptoms this flu season, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.

  • Stay home for at least 24 hours after fever is gone , except to seek medical care or for other necessities. (Fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Forging ahead as though you aren’t sick when you are will do no one any good. Do not go to class, work, or social events.
  • Monitor your temperature.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink clear fluids (such as water, broth, sports drinks, electrolyte beverages for infants) to keep from being dehydrated.
  • Treat symptoms with acetaminophen (Tylenol), not aspirin products. Use throat lozenges/syrup, decongestants, and other over the counter medications as appropriate and as needed.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Wash hands often with soap and water.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Be watchful for emergency warning signs (see below) that might indicate you need to seek medical attention.
  • If you are in a “high risk” group, contact your health care provide about special care that might be helpful.
  • If your symptoms appear to be worsening, seek medical attention.

CDC has additional information about taking care of a sick person in your home on its website.

At Risk Groups

Anyone can get the flu (even healthy people), and serious problems from influenza can happen at any age. Certain individuals are “high risk” and should talk to a health care provider about whether they need to be examined if they get influenza-like symptoms this season.  They include:

  • Children ages 6 months to 24 years (especially children under the age of 2 years old)
  • People 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People with any chronic medical conditions that may increase risk of complications from influenza-like symptoms (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease)

Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are three examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.

What are the emergency warning signs?

There are emergency warning signs. Anyone who has them should get medical care right away.

In children:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Do I need to go the emergency room if I am only a little sick?

No. The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick. You should not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill. If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should go to the emergency room. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice. If you go to the emergency room and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it.

How long should I stay home if I’m sick?

CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other things you have to do and no one else can do for you. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medications.)

*Information from CDC and Flu.gov.