Insights on Influenza Blog
Mission: To save lives and reduce hospitalizations by protecting children, families, and communities against influenza.

Flu Treatment

What to do if you get sick with the flu:

Stay home.

Should you become infected, keep the germs from spreading by staying home. Most people are contagious for 24 hours before symptoms appear and then for an average of 5-7 days after symptoms appear. During this time, try to limit exposure to others, especially those who are at greater risk of flu complications. People with flu are no longer contagious after they have no fever without the help of fever-reducing medications for 24 hours.


If you have influenza, drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration

Drink fluids.

Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration).


If you have influenza, drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration

Protect others.

Avoid close contact with other people in your home.

Nick was a healthy, active father who was hospitalized for 28 days in a medically-induced coma as a result of his flu illness. He still experiences lifelong medical complications.

Read Nick's Story


Know when to seek medical attention.

Most people with flu will recover without complications. However, if you are in a high risk group or are very sick or worried about your condition, seek medical attention.

While everyone is susceptible to flu, it is especially dangerous for the following groups:



In children, look for these warning signs: 

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Blue-ish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsens
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions



In addition to the signs listed for children, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Any fever if the baby is under 12 weeks old 

  • Not eating

  • Trouble breathing

  • Crying without tears or have significantly fewer wet diapers



In adults, be on the lookout for these warning signs:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improves but then returns or worsens
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Source 1  |  Source 2


Take antivirals if prescribed.

Take antivirals if they are prescribed.

Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. However, starting them later can still be beneficial, especially if the sick person is at high risk of serious flu complications or is in the hospital with more severe illness. 

Antiviral treatment is expected to lessen fever and symptoms and shorten the time you are sick. They also may reduce the risk of complications such as ear infections in children, respiratory complications requiring antibiotics, and hospitalization in adults.






Risk of Death

For people at high risk of complications, early treatment with an antiviral drug can mean having milder illness instead of more severe illness that might require a hospital stay. For adults hospitalized with flu illness, some studies have reported that early antiviral treatment can reduce their risk of death.

Bryerlee became hypoxic due to flu, which restricted her body from getting oxygen to her brain, liver and other organs.

Read Bryerlee's Story

There are four FDA-approved antiviral drugs recommended by CDC to treat flu this season:

Oseltamivir Phosphate 

Available as a pill or liquid suspension under the trade name Tamiflu® or as a generic version. FDA approved for early treatment of flu in people 14 days and older.


Given intravenously by a health care provider under the trade name Rapivab®. Approved for early treatment of flu in people 2 years and older.


Administered using an inhaler device under the trade name Relenza®. Approved for early treatment of flu in people 7 years and older, but not recommended for people with breathing problems like asthma or COPD.

Baloxavir Marboxil

A single dose oral medication known by its trade name of Xofluza®. Approved for early treatment of flu in people 12 years of age and older with the exception of pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, outpatients with complicated or progressive illness, or hospitalized patients.


Visit these other pages to learn more:

Page last reviewed: September 2021. 

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