Health and Wellness

Reduce the Chances of Getting the Flu

What you need to know

  • The flu is caused by a virus.
  • Flu symptoms come on fast and tend to be worse than a cold.
  • Flu symptoms may last 5–7 days.
  • Antibiotics will NOT help treat the flu.

Cold or flu? What is the difference?

The flu is different from a common cold. They both have similar signs and symptoms. This can make it hard to tell the difference between them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the table below to guide you. This is a general list and it does not replace the advice of your doctor.

Symptom onset* Gradual Sudden
Fever Rare Usual*
Aches Slight Usual
Chills Not common Fairly common
Fatigue, weakness Sometimes Usual
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sore throat Common Sometimes
Chest discomfort, cough Mild to moderate Common
Headache Rare Common

*Symptoms may vary from person to person.

Reduce the Chances of Getting the Flu

  • Get a flu shot every year.
  • Keep your immune system strong. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep and exercise.
  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Do not sneeze or cough into your hands.
  • Sneeze and cough into a tissue or inside your elbow.
  • Wash your hands often and after throwing away used tissue.

Care at Home

There is no cure for the flu, but there are some things you can do to feel better faster.

To help you get better faster:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • You may need to stay home when you have the flu.
  • Drink plenty of non-sugary fluids every day.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine.
  • Eat smaller meals or snack if you have little or no desire to eat.
  • Teenagers and children should not take aspirin unless given by their doctor.
  • Call your doctor before starting any medicine or call the CalOptima Nurse Advice Phone Line toll-free at 1-844-447-8441, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users can call toll-free at 1-844-514-3774.

Call Your Doctor If

  • Symptoms get worse fast.
  • Symptoms last or get worse after 1 week of home treatment.
  • You get a bad cough with thick mucus.
  • You have a high fever with a sharp pain when taking a deep breath.
  • You are vomiting and are not able to keep fluids down.

Remember, this document is a general guide and is not meant to diagnose any illness. If you have any concerns about your signs and symptoms, call your doctor. You can also call the CalOptima Nurse Advice Phone Line at the numbers above.

For questions about this document, call CalOptima’s Health Management department at 1-888-587-8088, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. TTY users can call toll-free at 1-800-735-2929. We have staff who speak your language.

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