The 2017-2018 flu season is shaping up to be one of the worst flu seasons in recent history.
Cases across the country have skyrocketed and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 26 states have reported high activity levels of influenza-like illnesses. Texas is one of those states.
If you haven’t yet, get the flu shot.
The flu shot gives you a better chance of effectively fighting off symptoms. This year’s flu shot doesn’t seem to be effective against most strains of the flu, but it’s still better than nothing, and it can help protect those around you, especially the young and the elderly.
Your immune system will be better able to fight the flu if you take good care of your body. Go to bed early (you can watch the next Game of Thrones episode tomorrow), drink lots of water (we mean it, put the coffee and soda aside) and move your body (use that New Year’s gym membership you got!)
Stay home if you think you’re getting sick. Common symptoms, according to the CDC, include:
• Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Muscle or body aches
• Fatigue (tiredness)
• Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
There are a few things you can do to ease flu symptoms. First, stay at home. This reduces the chances of spreading the flu and it helps you rest– which you’ll need. Rest, relax and let any fevers run their course. As we’ve said in this blog post, fevers help fight off sickness. You don’t want to stop or reduce a fever. Drink plenty of fluids. Hot tea with honey is a great remedy for loosening mucus and soothing a sore throat.
There are antiviral drugs that can lessen flu symptoms and shorten the duration of the flu by 1 or 2 days. Antiviral drugs require a prescription and are usually not prescribed to healthy adults. Antivirals are good for people that are at risk of serious complications from the flu. Some groups that are more at risk include: people 65 or older, children younger than 5 and pregnant women.
The most common complication from the flu is pneumonia. Should you visit the doctor if you contract the flu? There are several instances where the answer is yes.
If you are part of one of the groups that is at risk for complications, contact a doctor at the first sign of the flu. If your illness gets better and then seems to get worse, contact a doctor right away. The CDC also lists these as reasons to contact a doctor immediately:
• Fast breathing or trouble breathing
• Bluish skin color
• Not drinking enough fluids
• Not waking up or not interacting
• Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
• Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
• Fever with a rash
In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
• Being unable to eat
• Has trouble breathing
• Has no tears when crying
• Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
• Sudden dizziness
• Severe or persistent vomiting
• Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Healthy adults should be fine, but if your symptoms start to worry you, pop into America’s ER any time, day or night. Spring is around the corner, flu season won’t last forever! But take extra care of yourself and your health.