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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Many herbals are recommended by
individuals or sellers of alternative medications (Blue Green Dragon herbal mix,
olive leaf extract, turmeric, garlic, echinacea, astragalus, and others), but
there is no good studies with data to back these claims. None are recommended as
agents to treat bird flu by most of the world's physicians.