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Treating symptoms ... taking preventative measures

December 01, 2000

Treating symptoms ... taking preventative measures



The influenza virus spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to information on the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some flu and cold symptoms are similar - stuffy nose, sneezing and coughing. With the flu, a fever of 102 to 104 degrees usually is present for three to four days. Headache and general muscle aches are common, and fatigue can last for as long as two or three weeks, said Pat Firey, program supervisor in maternal/childhood nursing at the health department.

Prescription drugs - Relenza and Tamiflu - have been approved for treatment of flu symptoms. In order to be effective, they have to be taken within a day or two of getting the flu. They are expensive and reduce symptoms only by a day or two, so they are not cost-effective in many cases, said Dr. Cynthia Kuttner-Sands, a physician specializing in geriatric medicine in Hagerstown.

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Someone who has the flu should drink lots of fluids, get lots of rest and take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever.

If you feel like you're getting sick, stay home, said Firey. "Have tissues all around" to catch sneezes and coughs, she added. If you share a phone or computer at work, consider cleaning them with a disinfectant. Wash your hands frequently.

To reduce your risk of getting the flu, take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, eat properly and make sure you have some daily quiet time to maintain a healthy stress level, Firey recommended.

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