I saw a story on Inside Edition last night that terrified me.  It was about the news that officials report at least 20 kids have died because of the flu this season.  I had no idea how bad the epidemic was. So what do you do if you come down with the flu? Here’s the answer according to a panel of doctors:

Antivirals: There are two prescription drugs on the market that work against influenza. Tamiflu is a pill, and Relenza is an inhaled powder, and both can cut about a day or two off the time spent in bed with flu. They can also keep you from getting dangerously ill. Both must be taken within a day or so of when symptoms start to be effective.

Analgesics: Pain and fever relieving medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen – sold under brand names such as Motrin, Advil, Tylenol and others – can reduce fever and help with muscle aches. If you’ve got asthma, high blood pressure or other chronic conditions you should check with a doctor before taking them. Kids should never be given aspirin – it can cause a deadly reaction called Reyes Syndrome.

Fluids: Dehydration is a big risk when you’re sick and feverish. The Health and Human Services Department recommends plenty of clear fluids such as water, broth or sports drinks. If you have an upset stomach, try sipping through a straw. The really sick may suck on small ice cubes or ice pops. And drinking can soothe a sore throat.

Over the counter remedies: Decongestants and antihistamines can help the most annoying symptoms of a cold or the flu – the runny or congested nose and some cough caused by post-nasal drip. Antihistamines can also help many you sleep. Cough drops or hard candies can soothe a scratchy throat, although they should not be given to young children who might choke. Cough remedies containing the suppressant dextromethorphan may help but most contain too little to do much good.

Stay home and rest: If you have symptoms of flu or a bad cold, or another virus such as norovirus, the best thing you can do for yourself and others is stay home and rest. You won’t spread your germs that way and you’re unlikely to be effective at work or school, anyway. And if you’re caring for someone who is infected, keeping the patient confined to one room and keeping that room clean can help prevent the spread of infection. Humidifiers or a steamy shower may help people breathe more easily. And gargling with warm salt water can also soothe a sore throat.