The Catholic University of America

If You Get Sick with Influenza Like Illness

Most healthy people recover from the flu without complications. If you get the flu:

  • Stay home from work or school and do not return until you have had no fever without any medications for 24 hours.
  • Notify your professors by email that you are ill
  • Social distance yourself.  This means stay six feet distance from people, if you need to use a common area, wear a mask.
  • Make sure you continue to wash your hands frequently and cover your nose and mouth when you cough.
  • Get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids, and do not use alcohol and tobacco.
  • There are over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve the symptoms of the flu. The most commonly recommended ones are Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Do not use aspirin.
  • Remember that serious illness from the flu is more likely in certain groups of people including people 65 and older, pregnant women, people with certain chronic medical conditions and young children.
  • Consult your doctor early on for the best treatment, but also be aware of emergency warning signs that require urgent medical attention. Some of these signs are shortness of breath, fever that will not come down with fever reducing medicines, severe headache, neck stiffness and dizziness.  If you experience any of these, please contact a health care provider.
  • There are medicines that are sometimes prescribed for the flu.  The most common one is "Tamiflu".  This does not "cure" the flu or treat any of the symptoms.It may shorten the course of the illness by about one day.  It may also help to decrease the risk of complications in the high risk populations mentioned above.  To be effective, it needs to be started within 48 hours from the onset of symptoms.  Tamiflu has side effects that include nausea, headache and dizziness.

Emergency Warning Signs

Seek emergency medical care if you or someone you know is having any of following warning signs discussed below.In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Fever that will not come down