If you've been paying any attention at all, you know that the flu season this year is particularly vicious. Not only is the virus widespread, the strains are aggressive. In addition, the flu vaccine that people received earlier in the year was mostly ineffective against the particular strains that ended up going around.
If you think you or a family member might have the flu, here is what you need to know.
Is it the flu or a cold?
A lot of people have a hard time telling the difference between the flu and a cold. In general, here's how you can tell the difference:
- The flu: starts quickly, usually has a fever, and is usually or commonly accompanied by body aches, chills, weakness, coughing, and headache. Sneezing, sore throats, and stuffy noses are sometimes seen as well, but less commonly.
- A cold: comes on gradually, and commonly includes sneezing, sore throats, and stuffy noses. Weakness is sometimes experienced, but less commonly. Headaches, chills, and fever are rare or absent altogether.
Keep in mind that this is the worst flu season the nation has seen since 2009-2010. If you aren't sure, err on the side of caution and see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Should you see a doctor for the flu?
You can treat the flu at home. However, it may be safer to ask a doctor for an antiviral drug if you notice symptoms in the early stages. While antibiotics are useless against the flu, antivirals can prevent the flu bug from reproducing itself in your system, shortening the time you have to endure symptoms and stopping your body from being overwhelmed by illness. Because antivirals only work if they are taken within 48 hours of onset, head to a walk-in clinic if you can't get into to your regular physician.
What can you do at home for the flu?
Rest and fluids are the primary treatment for the flu. You can also take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, like Ibuprofen or Tylenol, to reduce the effects of any fever or aches. Don't take aspirin, however, because it can lead to complications in some people. You're contagious until after your fever is gone, so avoid contact with your family as much as possible -- take the opportunity to hole up in your room and binge-watch your favorite shows if you can't sleep.
If you experience trouble breathing, an inability to keep liquids down, a fever that disappears and comes back even harder or with a rash, pain in your chest or stomach, dizziness, confusion, or vomiting, your body may be overwhelmed. At that point, seek emergency room care as quickly as possible.
For more help, contact a company like MED7 Urgent Care Center.