Most flu patients should not go to an emergency room, Zich said. They will likely be sent home, as there is very little that can be done for them. A fever as high as 103 degrees Fahrenheit is common in the flu.
Patients with normal flu symptoms should get a lot of rest and take painkillers to help with muscle aches, Zich said. "In five to seven days, you're going to be feeling yourself again," he said.
But there are scenarios in which going to a hospital is necessary. If a patient is short of breath, or can't keep fluids down because of nausea, these are signs of a problem that needs immediate attention, as vomiting or sweating from fever can lead to dehydration, Zich said.
An otherwise healthy person will not get much benefit from antiviral medications designed to treat symptoms that the flu causes, Zich said. The side effects from both oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza) include nausea.
The CDC recommends that people who have a higher risk of complications from the flu receive antiviral treatment. These include people with chronic illnesses such as pulmonary, cardiovascular and neurological conditions, as well as anyone 65 years and older and children under age 2.
What many people don't know is that the flu vaccine becomes less effective as you get older or develop other medical problems, Zich said. The flu shot relies on the body's antibodies against the flu, so if the immune system is already compromised, it will not work as well.
If you have the flu, how are you treating it? Send photos of your flu survival kits.