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Health Service

Vassar College

These guidelines are for Seasonal Influenza (Flu), the common viral infection that usually occurs in the winter and for which there is a vaccine typically available in the fall. As there are other forms of Flue now in circulation, you can get more information at

What is it?

You may have headache, fever, chills, aching muscles all over, lack of appetite, sore throat, nasal discharge, dry cough, weakness, and pain or burning in your eyes. That may be the flu, especially if it occurs during the flu season which is usually in mid-winter to early spring. You will feel worse than you do with a cold –and you will want to stay in bed.

Flu is caused by a virus and usually goes away by itself. Sometimes complications develop such as bronchitis, sinus or ear infections, dehydration, or pneumonia. Complications are especially serious for the elderly and for people who have chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

What can I do?

  1. REST - Bed rest is very important especially when your fever is high.
  2. DRINK FLUIDS - Drink plenty of fluids. If your appetite is diminished, try to get some calories and nourishment with fluids (ie juices)
  3. VAPORIZER OR HUMIDIFIER - A cool steam machine placed next to your bed may help. Be careful if you shower, as flu can cause weakness.
  4. MEDICINES - Take two acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablets (or 200 mg of ibuprofen if you don't have an upset stomach) as needed every four hours to relieve your aches and lower your temperature. Cold medications may help some symptoms, however, it is very important to read the labels of all over-the-counter medications. Antibiotics will not help the flu because viral infections are not affected by antibiotics.
  5. SMOKING - If you smoke, cut down, or better yet, take this opportunity to quit.

Call us if

  1. Your symptoms last for more than five days with no improvement.
  2. You have trouble breathing which is not due to a stuffy nose.
  3. You cough up thick, green phlegm.
  4. Your fever is over 102 degrees F.
  5. Your fever is over 100 degrees F. for three days in a row.
  6. You cannot keep fluids down.
  7. You have ear pain or severe throat pain.
  8. You have a chronic illness such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease, or kidney disease.