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North Carolina Public Health: Influenza in North Carolina Home
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People with Health Conditions

Information About Flu for People with Health Conditions

  • If you have one of these health conditions -- asthma off-site link, arthritis off-site link or lupus, diabetes off-site link, cancer off-site link, HIV/AIDS off-site link, heart off-site link or kidney disease, or morbid obesity off-site link -- and you develop flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider or seek medical care.
  • Serious complications from the flu include pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, dehydration, or even death.

What To Do During a Flu Outbreak

If you have a chronic medical condition, during a flu outbreak you should:

  • Get a written record of the kind of chronic disease(s) you have and the treatment you are receiving. Keep this information with you at all times.
  • Prepare a typed or printed list of all medications usually taken and the times of day they are taken. Also include necessary medical supplies or equipment such as syringes, strips, lancets if you have diabetes, or oxygen if you have COPD
  • Keep the name, phone number, and office address of your doctor or health care provider with you at all times.
  • If you use medications for your condition, continue taking those medications even if you become sick with the flu, unless your doctor or health care provider says otherwise
  • Be alert to changes in your breathing, especially if you have heart failure, congestive heart disease or COPD. Promptly report changes to your doctor or health care provider
  • Inform family members or close friends of your medical condition.

Prevent Getting Sick

  • Take time to get vaccinated.
    The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the most common flu viruses. The Seasonal Flu Vaccine can protect you from getting sick from these three viruses or it can make your illness milder if you get a flu virus that is related to those in the vaccine.
  • Take everyday preventive actions.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
    • Avoid close contact with sick people.

If You Get The Flu

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze to keep from spreading flu viruses to others. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Stay home if you are sick until at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever (100°F or 37.8°C) or signs of a fever (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®).
  • Take antiviral drugs if your doctor recommends them. Antiviral drugs may be especially important for people who are sick and have a health condition that places them at greater risk of flu complications. For maximum effectiveness, antiviral drugs should be taken as soon as possible after symptoms begin.