The Flu is Here

This winter will legit go down in my books as one of the germiest I can remember. Usually we get hit with one thing at a time, but this year the stomach bug, the flu, strep throat, bad colds and a multitude of unidentifiable viruses are coming down hard. It isn’t just at the clinic. Almost everyone I talk to, everywhere, is down with something. This makes me nervous because it means it is then easy to miss the flu, and early detection is the only way to minimize symptoms and prevent the spread.

Here are a couple of reminders:

If you got the flu shot, you can still get the flu. There are many strains, and only some are represented in the flu vaccine.

Still, the vaccine is important because it will limit your chance of getting sick, and the more people in a community who are vaccinated, the more contained the spread. If you get the flu and have had the flu shot, your symptoms may be less severe and your risk of flu-related complications is less. You can still get the vaccine, but it takes about two weeks to kick in.

Early symptoms of the flu are extreme fatigue, body aches and a cough. As it progresses, the cough may worsen, a patient may start to wheeze, fever will develop and symptoms such as a sore throat will develop.

People usually develop flu symptoms in about 2 days after exposure (1-4 days total) and are contagious one day before onset of symptoms and for 5-7 days after.

Tamiflu is an antiviral prescription medication which can minimize flu symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. It works when taken within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms. This is important. IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE FLU, BE TESTED SO YOU CAN GET AN ANTIVIRAL ON BOARD. If you have been exposed to the flu, Tamiflu can help prevent you from becoming sick.

Your doctor can diagnose the flu based on symptoms or history of exposure, but there is also a rapid flu test, done much like a strep test, but usually by swabbing the inside of the nose.

In my hometown of Ridgewood, NJ, the flu is rampant. We are not alone. It is spreading fast in all of our communities. Remember to prevent the spread of germs as much as possible by washing your hands, staying away from people who are sick, and maintaining a healthy diet. Do NOT go near older people, infants or people who are immunocompromised if you think you have been exposed to the flu. It is in these populations, the flu can go from a bad illness to a severe one very quickly.

Check out the video below for some helpful tips on avoiding illness this season.

 


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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Physician, founder and president of Tips From Town. She loves combining all she learned as a doctor with all she continues to learn as a mom of five to bring you interesting, useful and fun information on the Family Pages.

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