Do your best to stop spreading germs! Stay away from people who are sick, wash hands well, don’t put your hands around your face or in your eyes or mouth, cover your mouth and face when you sneeze and stay home if you’re sick. St. Luke’s family medicine doctor, Robert S. Dolansky, DO, tells us what doctors wish everyone knew about the flu...
- GET A FLU SHOT - As of early November 2017, only two of every five children and adults in the United States received a flu shot. Peak flu season is from early January to March, so if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, there is still time. Most insurances cover a flu shot for little or no cost.
- COLD OR FLU? - Prevention is ideal, but if your best efforts fail, here’s how to know what you’re dealing with. Symptoms of cold and flu are similar, but a cold tends to start more slowly and build up while the flu usually hits quickly and more intensely. Patients often liken it to feeling as if they have been “hit by a truck.” The fatigue and body aches with the flu are usually more intense than most common cold viruses. The only definitive way to tell the difference is to perform a nasapharyngeal swab and send the results to a lab, but that can take a few days. So, the CDC recommends that doctors treat for influenza based on symptoms and clinical suspicion.
- MEDS CAN HELP - Not every case of the flu requires antiviral medication, but some do. Most people who get the flu will have mild illness and not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. People who are at high risk (like patients under 5 and over 65, pregnant women, people with any disease that weakens their immune systems, diabetes, heart or lung disease) should be evaluated and consider treatment with antivirals. It’s best to start antiviral medication within 48-72 hours of the onset of symptoms. The antiviral will help the flu symptoms and may speed up the recovery process, but most people do well with just rest, ibuprofen and over-the-counter flu medication.
- IT’S SUPER CONTAGIOUS - The flu is a highly contagious, respiratory illness. You can be contagious up to 8 days, so try to stay quarantined as much as possible.
- EAT YOUR ORANGES - Be even more mindful of a healthy diet - a good immune system can go a long way in protecting you from getting sick AND reducing the severity of the flu if you do get it.
- SPREAD THE WORD, NOT THE FLU - Share tips for staying healthy during flu season and encourage those who are sick to stay home and see a doctor if their symptoms persist.