What to do if you get sick with the flu:
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.
Drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent fluid loss (dehydration).
Avoid close contact with other people in your home. If you need to leave your home or be in contact with others, wear a mask.
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.
If you test positive for flu, your provider may recommend antiviral medications because they can reduce the amount of time you are sick and the severity of your symptoms.
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 can prevent flu hospitalization and death.
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Page last reviewed: September 2021.