Fall is finally here. Families are getting ready for the upcoming holidays, colder weather and the dreaded Flu Season. The flu (short for influenza) is a viral respiratory illness which usually starts in late Fall and ends in the Spring. Symptoms include an abrupt onset of fever (temperature of 100.4 °F or greater) chills, muscles aches, cough, headache and sore throat.
The illness is spread through direct contact from respiratory secretions of an infected person, usually through coughing or sneezing. The incubation period is 1-4 days, meaning you start to have symptoms 1-4 days after being in contact with someone who is sick.
If you or your family members develop theses symptoms there are ways to detect if you have the flu. You can visit your local urgent care or primary care office where they will be able to test with a simple nasal swab. This takes just a few minutes to run. We are fully stocked at all three of our clinics located in Upper Arlington, Bexley and Worthington.
Since the Flu is a viral infection antibiotics are not necessary. Your body will fight off the infection between a few days to less than 2 weeks in someone who is young and otherwise healthy.
Medications such as Ibuprofen and Tylenol can help reduce fever and body aches and a cough medication such as Robitussin or Delsym can help with coughing.
says Whitney Cramer, Certified Physician Assistant for Arlington Urgent Care, Inc.
Some studies have also shown Elderberry extract in the form of Sambucus nigra can also help with viral infections. This can be purchased over the counter at your local grocery, pharmacy or specialty store. It is very important to stay hydrated and get plenty of rest.
If indicated, antiviral medications can also be prescribed to help reduce the severity and duration of your symptoms, usually by 1-2 days. The most popular antiviral medication, Tamiflu (Oseltamirvir,) can help but only if given within the first 48 hours of having symptoms.
Tamiflu is actually only indicated for people who are considered “high risk”, which includes people 65 and older, 5 years and younger, pregnant women (especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimester,) or someone with asthma, chronic lung conditions, heart disease or a weakened immune system (HIV, AIDS, cancer or chronic steroid use),
People considered high risk are also more likely develop complications from the flu such as pneumonia and other illnesses that require further treatment, hospitalization or even death. This is why it’s so important that everyone, especially those listed as high risk, get their flu shot every year.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot every year unless contraindicated. It is recommended to get the vaccine by the end of October to have protection at the beginning of flu season. Children aged 6 months through 8 years may require 2 doses of medication. The first dose should be given as soon as the vaccination is available and again at or after 4 weeks later. People 9-64 years old should receive a single dose of the medication. Anyone 65 and older should receive a high dose flu shot, which is also only needed once a year.
Since the virus is spread through droplets it is extremely important to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Washing your hands frequently will also decrease your chance of getting sick.
It is a myth that you can get the flu from the flu shot. With any medication there is a risk of side effects. Common side effects to the vaccination are muscle soreness, fatigue, headache, runny nose or fever. These symptoms are usually much milder than the actual flu and go away on their own in a few days. Also keep in mind that if you are getting the flu shot shortly after being exposed (within a week) to someone who had the flu you may have contracted the flu already, in which case the flu vaccine will not help. It will help fight further infections later in the season, however.
If you have more questions about the flu or would like to get your flu shot, you can visit any one of the three Arlington Urgent Care, Inc. locations: Bexley Urgent Care, Arlington Urgent Care or Worthington Urgent Care.