Fast Facts on the Flu

Published January 1, 2005

Fast facts to help fight the flu bug:

  • A sick person who coughs, sneezes, or speaks and sends the virus into the air spreads the flu. Be considerate of others if you have the flu and cover up when you sneeze or cough. The virus can infect anyone who comes in contact with you.
  • Flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, body aches, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, and nasal congestion. If you get the bug, rest, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  • Antibiotics like penicillin will not cure the flu. The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot. Over-the-counter medications may relieve symptoms of flu. The National Institute for Allergies & infectious Diseases recommends Tylenol for children, and aspirin or acetaminophen for adults. Decongestants, cough suppressants, and use of a humidifier can provide relief.

Special notes on children:

  • Do not give aspirin to a child or teenager who has the flu.
  • Antihistamines cause sleepiness. Parents should ask their doctor for a non-sedating antihistamine.
  • Encourage children to cover their coughs and sneezes, wash their hands frequently, and keep their hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • The first days of the illness are when symptoms are most severe and the infection is most contagious. Children can return to school when no fever has been detected for 24 hours.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.