Most people who get the flu require no specific treatment other than rest, lots of fluids and perhaps acetaminophen for fever (aspirin is not recommended). Probably the most important thing for a person with the flu is to try not to pass it on to someone else.

If you get flu symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat and aches, UC Davis doctors recommend the following:

  • Stay home. Do not go to work or school. Limit your visitors so you have contact with as few people as possible. 
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the tissue and wash your hands when done. 
  • Wash your hands frequently so you will not pass the virus from your hands to other people. Wash with soap and warm water for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, you can use alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers. Rub your hands until the gel is dry.
  •  Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. 
  • You may take over-the-counter cough medications. Unless you have been told to avoid acetaminophen, you may use it for fever as instructed on the bottle.
  • Call your doctor if you do not start to feel better within 5 to 7 days.

Important considerations

  • If you have emphysema, heart disease, diabetes or other chronic health problems, call your doctor’s office. Your physician may want to see you and prescribe medications. Also call your doctor if you do not start to feel better within 5 to 7 days.
  • See a doctor right away if you develop trouble breathing, cannot take fluids or have trouble thinking clearly. Call your doctor’s office. They may direct you to an urgent care or emergency room depending on the severity of your symptoms. If you are not feeling well you may need to ask someone to drive you. Call 9-1-1 if you are having an emergency.
  • Family members who have heart or lung disease, diabetes or other serious chronic conditions and who have been exposed to you may require medication to prevent them from getting the flu. They should contact their physician.

If you have flu symptoms and are visiting a UC Davis primary care clinic, please call ahead first for instructions or send someone into the clinic while you wait in the car. Patient care providers may issue a mask and arrange a separate room for you immediately to avoid exposing others in the waiting room.

If you believe you have an emergency, always dial 9-1-1.