You’re sitting at your desk finishing up those last minute reports. The day’s been great up to that point, when all of a sudden your body begins to quiver. You think it’s strange because you’ve felt fine all day. The office is at a reasonable temperature. You have a long sleeve shirt on. What could it be?
To stave off your sudden chills, you put on your coat. But that doesn’t seem to help. You’re still cold ⎯ on the verge of trembling. Beads of sweat trickle down your forehead, as your body temperature seems to be increasing by the second.
Your joints ache, your head feels heavy. You look around the office ⎯ anxious. Confused. What’s going on? Everyone seems fine. You return focus back to the computer, but the light from the monitor causes your eyes to pulsate. You rush to the bathroom as you expel a heavy, phlegm-like cough.
Face it: you have the flu.
Now that fall has set in, the flu virus begins its nasty circulation around the workplace.
Doctors strongly recommend that most flu patients remain calm, and refrain from rushing to the emergency room.
“Most flu patients will likely be sent home, as there is very little that can be done for them,” said Dr. David Zich, internal medicine and emergency medicine physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “A fever as high as 103 degrees Fahrenheit is common for the flu.”
Zich suggests that patients with normal flu symptoms should get a lot of rest and take painkillers to help with muscle aches.
If, however, you experience the following symptoms, then a trip to the hospital may be in order:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen.
- Sudden dizziness.
- Severe or persistent vomiting.
- Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and worse cough.
“If a patient is short of breath or can’t keep fluids down due to nausea, these are signs of a problem that needs immediate attention,” Zich said. “Excessive vomiting or sweating from fever can lead to dehydration, which is serious and requires treatment.”
The course of treatment you decide to take depends on your symptoms. For example, if you experience nasal or sinus congestion, then WebMD suggests taking a decongestant.
Decongestants come in oral or nasal spray forms that help reduce swelling in nasal passageways.
If you have a runny nose, or itchy, watery eyes ⎯ then an antihistamine may be in order. According to WebMD, antihistamines block the effect of “histamine,” and help relieve symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and nasal discharge.
If you’re someone who despises taking medication, then here are a few ways to treat the flu naturally:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink plenty of clear fluids like water, broth, and sports drinks, to prevent dehydration.
- Place a damp, cool washcloth on your forehead, arms, legs, and neck, to help minimize discomfort associated with a fever.
- Cover up with a warm blanket to reduce chills.
If you do become ill with the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you stay home from work, school, travel, and other social gatherings for at least 24 hours after your fever perishes, so as not to infect others with the virus.