Prevention of Reye's Syndrome
What to Do if You Get the Flu
Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
The flu is a serious illness that can be fatal in people whose immune systems are weakened, the elderly, and those with chronic medical conditions. Each year 30,000-35,000 people die in the U.S. from the flu or its complications. Even healthy people who develop the flu cannot work, attend school, or participate in normal activities for several days. Complications of the flu can develop in anyone and include pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, or bronchitis. These bacterial infections can develop as a complication of the flu because the body's immune system is weakened from the illness.
If you get the flu, there are treatments that can reduce both the intensity and duration of your suffering:
Over-the-countermedications such as pain relievers, decongestants, and antihistaminescan reduce the severity of your symptoms, but these are not treatments for the viral infectionitself. There are over-the-counter flu preparations available that combine these types of medications. (Remember that aspirinshould not be given to those under 18 years of age because of its association with Reye syndrome, a serious condition that affects the nervous system and the liver.)