5 Things Everyone Needs to Know About the Flu
Flu season typically winds down once spring comes, but in a late-March report, the CDC reported that the 2018 flu season is raging on with a second wave of illness. This means the risk of illness has not passed for you or for your family members.
It’s still important to do all you can to protect yourself from the influenza virus, and the first step towards protection is knowledge. Here are five key facts everyone should know about the flu.
- Influenza Is Primarily a Respiratory Illness
Many people like to say that they have the flu when they’re dealing with an upset stomach. While stomach bugs are sometimes referred to as the stomach flu, this is not actually influenza.
Influenza is primarily a respiratory illness that causes symptoms like a sore throat, coughing, fever and chills, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. If your primary symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, you don’t have the flu — you may have a foodborne illness or a different viral infection.
- Influenza Can Be Deadly
The phrase “just the flu” gets tossed around a lot, and this phrasing seems to trivialize the flu and how severe it can be. It’s true that most people who become ill with the flu recover with no long-term complications — but many do not. In fact, approximately 36,000 people die from influenza every year in the United States.
Certain people are at an increased risk of death and serious health complications related to the flu. These people include children age two and younger, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, and people on immunosuppressive drugs.
- There Are Treatments for the Flu
You may have heard that since the flu is caused by a virus, not bacteria, there’s no way to treat it, and you just have to wait for it to pass. While this was true years ago, there are now effective antiviral drugs that can help your body fight off the flu faster.
The sooner these drugs are administered, the more effective they are. So it’s important to see a doctor as soon as you suspect you may be coming down with the flu, especially if you are at an increased risk for flu complications due to age, pregnancy, or medication use.
- Certain Warning Signs Indicate That the Flu Is an Emergency
Many people with milder cases of the flu can recover at home without the need for serious medical intervention. However, you should seek emergency care for the flu if you experience any of the following symptoms.
- Feelings of confusion and disorientation
- Trouble breathing or feelings of pressure in the chest
- A blue-gray tint to your skin
- Severe lethargy that makes it difficult to get out of bed
Having a mild to moderate fever with the flu is normal and to be expected. In an adult, a fever over 104 degrees F indicates that you should seek emergency care. Seek emergency care for a fever above 100.4 degrees F in an infant, and for any fever above 102.2 for a child under the age of three. For children over the age of three, any fever over 102 degrees F that lasts more than two days is considered an emergency.
- The Flu Shot Is the Best Way to Protect Yourself
The CDC recommends that everyone age six months and older get an annual flu shot. This vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself from the flu, and getting vaccinated also helps protect others in your family since you are less likely to bring the virus home with you. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot get the flu from the flu shot. Some people do still get the flu in spite of having had their flu shot, but the symptoms tend to be much milder.
Now that you know the basics about the flu, you are better equipped to protect yourself and your family as the flu season rages on. If you do feel ill or have a worrisome fever, please seek prompt care at Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc.