Think you have the flu?

Common symptoms, self-isolation and treatment information, and when to seek medical help

Symptoms of influenza include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting (sometimes)

Most patients experience a moderate respiratory illness and recover completely without medical intervention

If you have the flu...

  • Self-isolate: This means you should avoid close contact with other people until 24 hours after your fever has resolved and your body temperature has remained normal without fever-reducing drugs such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Self-isolation keeps you from spreading the illness to others.
  • Take fever-reducing drugs such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. You won't need prescription antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza unless you are severely ill or have a medical condition that puts you at risk for serious complications from the flu.

Seek medical help if your symptoms become worse or are serious.

Students and individuals on an MIT-sponsored health plan members can call MIT Health (617-253-4481) 24 hours a day to speak with a clinician.

Serious symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

In children, serious symptoms include:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Not urinating, or no tears when crying
  • Severe and persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Seek medical help if you're at risk for complications from flu. 

Higher-risk patients should always see a healthcare provider when they have flu-like symptoms. These include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Patients with a chronic medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease
  • Patients who are older than 65 or younger than 2
  • Patients whose immune systems are suppressed due to medications or medical conditions

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