Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Influenza is a respiratory infection. These are some of the recommended self-care techniques to help relieve viral flu symptoms; however, with bird flu, symptoms may progress rapidly and treatment at home would not be appropriate; if you have been exposed to bird flu and develop symptoms, seek medical help immediately and do not attempt to care for the infection at home.
Rest in bed. Avoid physical exertion. Avoid using alcohol and tobacco.
Drink plenty of fluids such as water, fruit juices, and clear soups. Water should not be the sole or main liquid consumed for prolonged periods because it does not contain adequate electrolytes (sodium and potassium, for example) that the body requires. Commercially available products such as sports drinks can be useful in this regard. For children,
oral rehydration solution (ORS) packets are another good way to replenish the body fluids.
Treat fever and aches with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol is a common brand), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin are examples), and naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn can be purchased at most drugstores). Aspirin is not recommended in children or teenagers because of an increased risk of severe liver disease called Reye's syndrome. Always follow package directions. Do not combine medicines with the same ingredients. For example, many sinus preparations already contain acetaminophen and should not be taken together with Tylenol.
Cough suppressants, antihistamines, and decongestants should be used only according to package directions. Many of these products have limited effectiveness and may have side effects. The FDA has recommended against the use of these products in children and infants.
Steam inhalations may be useful in opening up a blocked nose and thus make breathing easier.
Avoid touching hard surfaces where flu viruses may remain alive: handrails, telephones, doors, faucets, and counters. Wash your hands often, especially after being in public places or at work.
Cough or sneeze into a soft tissue or handkerchief. Carefully dispose of tissues after using them
and wash your hands.
Stay away from people who have the flu if possible. If you experience flu symptoms, you should consider staying at home and not going to work or to crowded places in which you might spread the virus.
Remember: Bird flu in humans is frequently fatal, so home treatment is not advised if bird flu is suspected.