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    Flu Facts

    2009 H1N1 Flu Symptoms, Warning Signs and When to Seek Medical Care

    Most people who have become ill with the 2009 H1N1 virus have recovered without medical treatment. In some people, the flu can cause serious complications, including pneumonia, dehydration, and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes. Children and adults may develop sinus problems and ear infections.

    Consult your health care provider if you develop flu-like symptoms and are concerned about your illness, if you are at high risk for complications of the flu or if you develop warning symptoms. Those at high risk for complications include pregnant women, young children, those with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), and people 65 years or older.

    If you are otherwise healthy* and you develop flu-like symptoms, you should not go to your health care provider's office, clinic or an emergency department unless you develop warning symptoms or the flu symptoms go away and then return. You may call your health care provider to seek medical advice, but due to the short supply of antiviral medications, such as Tamiflu or Relenza, they are being reserved for those at high risk for complications from the flu.

    *Healthy indicates persons who do not have an underlying medical condition that predisposes them to influenza complications.

    2009 H1Nl Symptoms

    The symptoms of 2009 H1N1 flu virus include:

    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Sore throat
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Body aches
    • Headache
    • Chills
    • Fatigue
    • A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting.

    If You Get the Flu

    Most healthy people recover from the flu without complications.

    If you get the flu:

    • Stay home from work or school until the fever is gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, such as Tylenol, Advil or generic versions. A fever is defined as 100°F or 37.8°C or higher.
    • Get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
    • Over-the-counter medications can relieve the symptoms of the flu (but don't give aspirin or any product containing salicylic acid to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever).
    • Remember that serious illness from the flu is more likely in certain groups of people including pregnant women, young children, people with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, and people 65 and older.
    • You may call your doctor early on to see if an antiviral prescription is possible. Due to the short supply of these drugs, they are being reserved for those at high risk for complications from the flu.
    • Be aware of warning symptoms that require urgent medical attention.

    If Your Child Gets the Flu: Tamiflu v. Theraflu

    Most children with flu can be treated at home unless their symptoms worsen (learn more about warning symptoms). However, very young patients, those with underlying medical conditions and those living in homes with family members who are pregnant or have underlying conditions have been prescribed Tamiflu in accordance with national guidelines.

    Tamiflu is a prescription medicine that acts on the flu virus to lessen the duration of illness. It should not be confused with the non-prescription brand name medicine Theraflu that is available for purchaseover the counter. In addition, some preparations of Theraflu have high doses of acetaminophen and may be unsuitable for children. The following outlines the difference between Tamiflu and Theraflu. Parents should consult with a pediatrician before giving the over-the-counter Theraflu to a child.


    • Prescription medication
    • Lessens severity and duration of flu symptoms
    • Only effective when given within 24-48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms


    Please consult your pediatrician before giving your child Theraflu as many preparations of Theraflu have high doses of acetaminophen and may be unsuitable for children.

    • Over-the-counter medication
    • May reduce fever or ease body aches and nasal congestion, similar to other over-the-counter products
    • Does NOT lessen severity and duration of flu symptoms

    Warning Symptoms

    Seek medical care if you or someone you know is having any of following warning symptoms:

    In children:

    • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
    • Bluish or gray skin color
    • Not drinking enough fluids
    • Severe or persistent vomiting
    • Not waking up or not interacting
    • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
    • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
    • Has other conditions, like heart or lung disease, diabetes or asthma and develops flu-like symptoms, including fever and/or cough.

    In adults:

    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
    • Sudden dizziness
    • Confusion
    • Severe or persistent vomiting

    Seek medical care if you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms above.

    Know How the Flu Spreads

    The flu usually spreads from person to person in respiratory droplets when people who are infected cough or sneeze. People occasionally may become infected by touching something with influenza virus on it and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

    Since influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing, stay home until at least 24 hours with no fever (and no use of fever-reducing medication). Avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others and maintain good cough etiquette.

    Health care officials also recommend hand washing and cough etiquette as a way to prevent H1N1 and seasonal flu from spreading. Find out how you can reduce your risk.

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