Tips for weathering cold and flu season

The Seattle Times reports the current flu season got off to an earlier start than usual, and Washington state has been especially hard hit.

Symptoms of the common flu include high fever, chills, body aches, headache, tiredness, a dry cough, and sore throat. Seasonal flu symptoms usually last 3 to 5 days but can continue as long as 7 to 10 days. Some symptoms, such as a dry cough, can last longer. Seasonal flu is most severe in older people, very young children, and those with chronic health conditions.

For many people, home treatment is all that’s needed to get better. Steps to take include:

  • Drink plenty of clear liquids, including water and juice. Drink 8 ounces every 2 hours.
  • If you smoke, quit. Stay away from others who smoke. It irritates your lungs and causes a dry, hacking cough. For help to quit smoking, see our resources to quit tobacco.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Take acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin (not for people younger than 20), or ibuprofen if you are uncomfortable.

Where to go for medical advice

If your symptoms don’t improve in a few days and you want medical advice or treatment, you have options. Several are available without leaving home.

  • If you’re a current Kaiser Permanente Washington member, you can call the Consulting Nurse Service 24/7 at 1-800-297-6877, or use online Care Chat 24/7 to have a secure conversation with a Kaiser Permanente provider. Go to and sign in to your account; select “Care Chat” from the menu bar; then select “care provider,” type your message, hit send, and wait for a provider to respond. Consulting nurse and Care Chat are included in your plan at no additional cost.
  • In the Puget Sound area, you can go to a walk-in CareClinic at 15 Bartell Drugs locations. CareClinic is staffed with Kaiser Permanente board-certified physician assistants and nurse practitioners who treat minor injuries and illnesses. Visit to find the nearest location and wait times. Before you leave home you can put your name on the list to minimize your wait.
  • Call your doctor’s office.

Protect yourself from getting the flu

If you haven’t already gotten a flu vaccine, it’s not too late. It’s the best way to protect yourself.

Other steps you can take to ward off the flu include:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue into the trash after you use it. Or cough into your elbow (not your hands).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are spread this way.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.


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