Fighting the Flu: Easy steps to ease illness

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The flu season has begun, and there are easy steps to prevent getting sick. Getting a flu shot is the first and most important step. Because the inoculation only protects against viruses, not bacteria, it is also important to wash hands often, especially before eating or touching the face, and covering the mouth and nose went coughing or sneezing.

Despite flu shots and preventative measures, some will still get sick. Here are a few tips from the 42nd Medical Group to ease flu symptoms - get lots of rest, drink fluids and take fever reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If a person becomes unable to drink enough (if the person feels dizzy when he or she stands up) or if the person has a fever for more than three days, or if after feeling better the person develops another fever, the person should see a health care professional immediately.

Active-duty Air Force members may not need a doctor's appointment to take off work when sick. Air Force Instruction 44-102, Medical Care Management, states that commanders and supervisors can grant up to 24 hours sick status if a member's illness does not require medical intervention. Civilian employees need a doctor's excuse after three consecutive days of absence due to illness.

The symptoms of the flu are as follows: aching muscles and joints; deep, hacking cough that is dry and painful; no appetite; sore throat; eye pain; chills; exhaustion; headache; and a fever between 100 degrees and 104 degrees. A person needs to go to an emergency room immediately if he or she develops the following symptoms: chest pain when breathing; coughs up blood; short of breath or wheezing; unable to sit up or function normally.