Influenza (Flu)

An older woman in bed holding temple and reading a digital thermometer.

Do I Need Antibiotics for Flu?

Influenza or flu is caused by a virus. Adults with influenza can spread the virus to others for 3–5 days after symptoms begin. Children with influenza can spread the virus to others for up to 7 days.

Why You Don’t Need Antibiotics for Flu

Because the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not work.

Symptoms of Flu

  • Fever/chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Feeling tired
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose/sneezing
  • Cough

Prevention of Flu

  • Get an annual influenza vaccine for you and your children.
  • Wash your hands, especially after you are with someone who is sick. Teach your child about handwashing.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. Teach your child to do the same.

Management of Flu

  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water.
  • Get plenty of rest or allow your child to get plenty of rest. Stay at home or keep your child at home for the first few days of illness to rest and to prevent spreading it to others.
  • Consider using acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (like Advil) for fever, headache, and body aches. Ibuprofen should not be given to children under 6 months of age without first speaking to your health-care provider. Please follow dosing instructions on the box or speak to a doctor or pharmacist for more information.

In British Columbia, you can call HealthLink BC (at 8-1-1) or visit if you need advice or are unsure of the best course of action.

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