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If I think I have H1N1 flu, what should I do?

Lisa M. Owens, MD
Internal Medicine
Do not go to work or school. The CDC recommends that workers stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications.  Healthcare personnel stay out of work for at least 7 days after the start of symptoms or at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, whichever is longer.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue every time you cough or sneeze. Then throw the used tissue in a waste basket and clean your hands after disposing of used tissue. If you don't have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your upper sleeve.
Clean your hands with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. You can also use alcohol-based hand cleaner.
Try to limit contact with others to keep from getting them sick.
Drink plenty of fluids, rest, and take medicine to reduce your fever.
If you have other health problems, you may wish to contact your healthcare provider by telephone. Your healthcare provider can determine if you need treatment and/or a test for influenza. Talk to your doctor if symptoms seem severe or ongoing.

Seek emergency medical care if you have any of the following:

Children: Fast breathing or trouble breathing; bluish skin color; not drinking enough fluids; not waking up or not interacting normally; being so irritable that the child does not want to be held; flu-like symptoms that improve and then return with fever and cough; fever with a rash
Adults: Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen; sudden dizziness; confusion; severe or persistent vomiting.
The only way to know for sure if you have H1N1 flu is to have your doctor take a respiratory sample from your nose and throat and then have the sample tested in a laboratory. Most people who develop H1N1 or any other strain of influenza get better without treatment. But if you have certain health conditions, such as asthma or a weakened immune system, and you think you have influenza, see your doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.