ATLANTA - "The biggest signs that you have the flu are body aches, high fever, sometimes nausea, sometimes cough," Dr. Bergquist says. "But the interesting thing about the flu is, it feels like it just hit you like you were in a car accident."
The good news is that most healthy people will get through a flu infection without serious complications.
If you get sick, the CDC says stay home, rest, and make sure you're getting plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. The flu is a virus, so antibiotics won't help, unless you develop a secondary infection, like bacterial pneumonia, which is possible on the heels of the flu. The antiviral Tamiflu might ease your misery. Right now, because of spot shortages, the CDC is recommending antivirals only for people with severe flu, or those with underlying health conditions.
"Tamiflu can shorten the duration and severity of the flu, if it's caught within the first 48 hours," Dr. Bergquist says. "But, it typically reduces the duration by about a day or two. It won't completely prevent the course of the illness. So, if you're pretty healthy, you don't have to have Tamiflu."
Keep an eye out for anyone who seems to be getting better then suddenly worsens.
That means it's time to get to a doctor. There is almost nothing more miserable than having the flu.
But, what's normal and what's not? How do you tell if someone getting into trouble with the flu?
Emory Healthcare internist Dr. Sharon Bergquist says flu typically hits suddenly, and hard.
Those at higher risk for flu complications include the very young, the very old, pregnant women and people with chronic health problems. Still, the CDC says half of children hospitalized with flu complications this season were healthy, and had no underlying health issues, before they got sick.
So what are the warning signs someone is getting into trouble? Dr. Schuchat says watch for a persistent high fever, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat, significant tiredness and confusion.