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The flu this year is NO JOKE!! It hit hard, fast and when you least expect it. It could definitely be compared to a sucker punch to your whole being when you weren’t looking. A punch that comes complete with respiratory issues, fevers, chills, body aches and if you are really lucky GI issues too! The flu season is just hitting its peak so you need to make sure you are educated.

The virus this year seems much like many other flu seasons. There seems to be no rhyme or reason and can hit anyone even if you have had the flu shot. The CDC says that the flu shot can have a 40-60% effectiveness when it is most like the circulating viruses. Last year, according to Time Magazine, the vaccine was said to be 47% effective overall. While it was only 36% effective in 2017-2018.

Now keep in mind this is not a piece where we are going to discuss or debate the need for the flu vaccine. Especially for those who are immunocompromised or elderly. Or those who are around babies/children, the immunocompromised or the elderly.

What I do want to discuss is what to watch for this season, as far as signs of the flu. As well as what you can do if do contract the flu.

Influenza Symptoms

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

** Please note that not everyone who has the flu will actually have a fever.

The flu will be uncomplicated in most. But it can cause complications ranging from sinus infections to sepsis and death. So it is important to pay close attention to anyone with the flu. If you develop any of the following symptoms you need to seek emergency care!!

Children

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Ribs pulling in with each breath
  • Chest pain
  • Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
  • Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
  • Not alert or interacting when awake
  • Seizures
  • Fever above 104°F
  • In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

Adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
  • Seizures
  • Not urinating
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Severe weakness or unsteadiness
  • Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
  • Worsening of chronic medical conditions

If you think you have the flu it is important that you seek care within the first 24-48 hours. Treatment is time sensitive. If you don’t receive anti-viral they won’t be nearly as effective. These medications will not necessarily make the flu go away but they do help to shorten the duration. They also reduce the likelihood of serious complications.

There are things you can do at home to manage the symptoms as well. But I can’t stress enough that if you can get the antiviral medications you should. However, they can be costly and insurance doesn’t always pay for them. That being said let’s look at what you can do at home to manage symptoms of the flu.

Symptom Management

  • Rest- The more rest you can get the better. This will help give your body the energy it needs to heal.
  • Drink plenty of fluids- This will help to keep you hydrated. Especially if you are running a high temperature and sweating a lot. But it will also help to thin out any mucous you may have and help you to cough it up.
  • Treat Aches and Fevers – Use whatever over the counter medication you prefer to help control the aches and pains, and fevers. Also try using tepid baths for high temps or hot baths for the aches and pains.
  • Use a humidifier- Using a COOL mist humidifier if your home is dry can help aid in your cough and congestion. Do not use warm mist as this could promote the growth of mold &/or bacteria.
  • Stay home- While you may need to work to pay the bills it is not nice to share the flu with your coworkers or anyone else you come into contact with. So please stay home and keep the flu to yourself!!

 

It is easy to ignore the warnings on the importance of the flu vaccine and the impact of the flu each season. As well as the dangers of the flu itself until you get it yourself. Then you realize just how awful it really can be. Especially when it feels like starting in September there is just so much flu information thrown at us. I’m not going to debate anyone on whether you should get the vaccine. You do you and I’ll do me. But if you do decide to not get the shot please be considerate enough to stay at home if and when you get the flu. Because the flu could kill myself and others like me.

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