Flu Symptoms and When to Come to the Hospital

October 16, 2009

When you or a loved one are feeling the awful effects of the flu, it could be hard to know when to seek medical help. Most people who have been sick with the H1N1 flu virus in the US have recovered at home without treatment. To limit the spread of the flu to others, those with flu symptoms should stay home for 24 hours after they have been fever-free without the use of fever reducting medications such as Tylenol or Advil, unless given other instructions by your healthcare provider.

Like seasonal flu, complications can occur with novel H1N1 flu. Seek emergency medical care if you or your loved one becomes ill and experiences any of the following warning signs:

  • Fast or trouble breathing
  • Bluish or gray skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not urinating as much as usual
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Not waking up or interacting as usual
  • Being so irritable that your sick child does not want to be held
  • Fever returns after being absent for a day, or a significant change in fever pattern occurs. For example, it was 101 degrees Fahrenheit for several days and now it is 103 degrees.
  • Again, seek emergency medical care if your or your family member experiences any of these warning signs.

    There are some things you can do to keep healthy:

  • CDC recommends a yearly seasonal flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against seasonal influenza. Seasonal flu vaccine will not protect you against novel H1N1, so ask your doctor if you should also get a 2009 H1N1 vaccine.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not your hands. Put your used tissue in the wastebasket.
  • Wash hand often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you or your family member gets sick with a flu-like illness, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • For more information, visit www.flu.gov.