By Doctors Express of Danbury
Flu season has arrived! Seasonal flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It spreads between people and can cause mild to severe illness. In very rare cases, the flu can lead to death. People over the age of 65, children under the age of 2 and those with chronic health conditions are more likely to experience complications from the seasonal flu.
The flu virus is spread when you either inhale infected droplets in the air (spread when an infected person sneezes) or when you come in direct contact with an infected person’s secretions (by kissing, touching, sharing objects such as spoons and forks). You can also transfer the flu virus to your hands by touching smooth surfaces such as doorknobs, handles, television remotes, computer keyboards and telephones. Then, when you touch your hands to your nose, eyes or mouth, the flu virus gets absorbed.
If you become sick with the flu virus:
- Stay home to prevent others from catching the flu
- Drink plenty of fluids (water, broth, sports drinks) to avoid becoming dehydrated
- Get a lot of rest
- Gargle salt water to soothe a sore throat
- Cover up with a warm blanket to calm chills
- Take over the counter medicine (decongestants, cough medicine/drops and pain relievers) to help symptoms subside
- Another option to help with symptoms is to have a provider prescribe a medicine called Tamiflu. This is an antiviral medicine that can make the symptoms milder if taken within 48 hours of getting sick.
Antibiotics will not help with the flu since the flu is a virus and antibiotics treat bacterial infections; it has to take its course. Most people will recover in 1-2 weeks without medical care from a provider. You are contagious up to a day before symptoms occur and for up to 7 days after the onset of the flu. Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or pressure
- Severe vomiting
PREVENTION IS KEY! Dr. Lupis, a physician at Doctors Express, states,