- Rest in bed. Avoid physical exertion. Avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
- Drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit juices, and clear soups. Water should not be the sole or main liquid consumed for prolonged periods because it does not contain adequate electrolytes (sodium and potassium, for example) that the body requires. Commercially available products such as sports drinks can be useful in this regard. For children, ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution) packets are another good way to replenish the body fluids.
- Steam inhalations may be useful in opening up a blocked nose and thus make breathing easier.
- Treat fever and aches with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol is a common brand), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin are examples), and naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn can be purchased at most drug stores). Aspirin is not recommended in children or teenagers because of an increased risk of severe liver disease called Reye's syndrome. Always follow package directions. Do not combine medicines with the same ingredients. For example, many sinus preparations already contain acetaminophen and should not be taken together with Tylenol.
- Cough suppressants, antihistamines, and decongestants should be used only according to package directions. Many of these products have limited effectiveness and may have side effects. The FDA has recommended against the use of these products in children and infants.
- Cough or sneeze into a soft tissue or handkerchief. Carefully dispose of tissues after using them and wash your hands.
- Avoid touching hard surfaces where flu viruses may remain alive: handrails, telephones, doors, faucets, and counters. Wash your hands often, especially after being in public places or at work.
- Stay away from people who have the flu if possible. If you experience flu symptoms, you should consider staying at home and not going to work or to crowded places in which you might spread the virus.
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