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Consumer Reports: How to survive the flu

A very contagious strain of influenza type A called H3N2 has been causing most of the cases of the flu in the U.S. and is associated with more hospitalizations, and more deaths than other strains, according to the CDC. (Image credit: MGN Online & Consumer Reports)

A very contagious strain of influenza type A, called H3N2, has been causing most of the cases of the flu in the U.S. and is associated with more hospitalizations and more deaths than other strains, according to the CDC.

People at high risk for flu complications include people 65 or older, those with a compromised immune system or a chronic health condition like asthma, heart or lung disease and children under 5. It is recommended they take an antiviral medication as soon as possible. Make sure you get enough rest, keep hydrated and, if you have a fever, headache or body aches, opt for over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen.

Consumer Reports health experts say it is not too late this flu season to get the flu vaccine. It can lessen the risk of complications and being hospitalized if you do get the flu. Other ways to prevent getting the flu -- use a humidifier to keep the humidity at 30 to 50 percent since the virus survives best in dry air. Wash your hands often with soap and water. Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth to avoid transferring any virus you might have on your hands. Cover your sneeze or cough in your elbow if you don't have a tissue handy.

Consumer Reports warns to avoid cough suppressants and antibiotics, which don't work for viral infections and can contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

See your doctor if your flu symptoms improve but then fever returns and your cough worsens or if you experience difficulty breathing, pain in the chest or abdomen and severe or persistent vomiting. These may be signs of secondary infection.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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