Only 15 percent of patients that have flu-like symptoms will even see a doctor, and when they do, it’s too late for early flu remedies and antiviral treatments.
If you’ve been sneezed on or exposed at home or work, don’t wait to see a doctor. Learn more about who’s at risk for the flu and what steps you can take to minimize your recovery time.
Who is at risk for the flu?
Reports show that the H3N2 virus strain, which is known to increase hospitalization and deaths, is proving to be the dominant strain. Everyone is at risk, and the virus can pass from one person to the next with a simple cough, sneeze or contact with a contaminated object.
It’s also important to note that flu risks are higher for individuals who have a chronic respiratory illness such as COPD, asthma and lung disease. Pregnant women are also at high risk if they are in their first trimester as high fevers have been linked to birth defects. In addition, the flu can impact those under the age of 5, over the age of 65 or reside in assisted living or nursing home facilities.
Don’t put yourself at risk and learn how it spreads and ways to protect yourself.
If you are healthy, is the flu serious?
What signs and symptoms should you look out for?
One of the most common signs of the flu is fever and it can range anywhere from 101 to 104 degrees. Those infected may also experience a deep cough, congestion, along with head and body aches.
Be sure to monitor your symptoms before, during and after the flu. If symptoms persist or get worse, you may have a secondary infection such as pneumonia, a sinus infection or ear infection (especially in children). Again, don’t delay, seek medical attention to rule out other potential illnesses.
When should you see a doctor for the flu?
If you think you’ve been exposed to the flu or have initial symptoms, skip a visit to the doctor’s office and schedule a call or video appointment with a doctor immediately. There are multiple options when it comes to antiviral medications, and they have the most significant impact if taken within the first 24 to 48 hours. The earlier you seek treatment, the higher likelihood of a speedy recovery.
In fact, if you know you’ve been exposed, your doctor can prescribe an antiviral medication to prevent potential onset, or keep it from becoming a full-blown case of the flu.
Understanding flu remedies and antiviral treatments
When the flu season approaches, you can take a proactive approach and get your annual flu shot. However, every year presents differently, and there are instances where the flu shot is ineffective against the dominant virus strain. Doctors and the CDC do recommend getting the flu shot to prevent illness.
If you contract the flu, there are antiviral medications to help your body manage the flu load and keep it from multiplying in the body. It also reduces the amount of virus release when you cough or sneeze, and can decrease the severity and duration by an average of one to three days. Your doctor can prescribe what’s right for you, but here are three prescription medications to know this flu season:
- Tamiflu: oral medicine taken twice a day for five days; moves through the entire body once absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Relenza (Zanamivir): inhalant medication taken twice daily for five days; moves through the lungs and airways.
- Peramivir: intravenous treatment for those who have trouble taking oral or inhaler medications.
When it comes to the flu, act fast
The flu season usually peaks between December and March and can sometimes last through May. Don’t hesitate, call you doctor and learn more on ways to avoid getting sick and how to ease the symptoms if you do.
Understanding the lifecycle of the flu
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About the author
Dr. Amisha Chhipwadia graduated Cum Laude from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. She received her Doctorate of Medicine from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia and then completed her residency training at the Harrisburg Family Practice Training program in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Chhipwadia has a vast array of experience in the medical field including solo practice, urgent care and occupational medicine. She has a special interest in women’s health, sports medicine and geriatrics. She has always believed in providing the highest quality of care no matter the setting or patient and is committed to bringing her telemedicine patients the same passion that she has practiced with since she graduated medical school.