by Tamara Passut
USAHC-Vicenza

U.S. ARMY HEALTH CLINIC - VICENZA, Italy - The flu can pack a nasty punch. It is like having a cold virus on steroids. Unfortunately, there isn't a different outcome from going to the doctor versus staying at home and taking good care of yourself from the comfort of your bed.

Staying home will certainly reduce your likelihood to spread the virus to others, and if you do go to the clinic - wear a respiratory mask (available in the waiting areas) and wash your hands.

Those with a healthy immunization system can expect improvement from flu symptoms in about a week with proper home remedy treatments and over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to reduce fever and body aches. Antihistamines and decongestants can help you breathe easier when you're congested as well.

When you are sick with a viral infection, drinking plenty of fluids and getting a lot of rest are the most beneficial recommendations. Draw down the shutters, curl up and take it easy for a few days. Ensure you are hydrated by replenishing fluids often and drinking more water than usual.

Children tolerate high fevers (higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit) relatively well. Although it may be scary for parents, it doesn't necessarily mean the child needs to go to the doctor.

If a fever doesn't break after you have taken fever reducers, call and leave a nurse telephone consult for your primary care team or write your team a private message through www.relayhealth.com.

If you have a weakened immune system or you or your child start having significant symptoms such as difficulty breathing, excessive chest or stomach pain, dizziness and lightheadedness despite rest and hydration, and/or severe vomiting, it is likely that you need to see your medical care team. These can be signs your body may not be able to fight off the flu on its own. Make appointments through www.TRICAREonline.com or call the clinic at DSN 636-9000, comm. 0444-61-9000.

A virus can quickly become an emergency in young children, elderly or those with weakened immune systems.

If you or a loved one who has been sick begins to wheeze, have a bluish tint to their lips or skin, are hard to wake up, seem confused or have a high fever and a rash, seek medical treatment right away.