What is Influenza?
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. The flu usually causes mild to severe symptoms depending on various factors primarily the health of your immune system. It is always best to build your immune system using supplements such as Vitamin C, Zinc and Echinacea. The CDC however recommends that the best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
When is Flu season?
The influenza viruses circulate all year round but tend to peak between December and February. In the United States, influenza season is considered to be in the fall and winter.
How is the flu spread?
The influenza viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets from persons with influenza who cough, sneeze or talk. A person may be able to spread influenza to someone else before they know they are sick, as well as while they are sick. People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
Symptoms of Influenza
Influenza usually comes on suddenly and can cause symptoms such as fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue (tiredness) which can last for up to 14 days.
Persons with flu symptoms should stay at home and avoid contact with other persons except to get medical care, if needed. However, persons in a high risk group who are very sick or worried about their illness should contact their health care provider.
How is flu treated?
Although the influenza is often mild and healthy persons usually recover without needing medical care or antiviral drugs, certain persons are at high risk of developing serious flu complications. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women and children younger than 5 years. Such persons are especially encouraged to get a flu vaccine each year.
Flu Treatment options:
- Anti-viral medications such as Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) and Relenza is especially useful in person at high risk of serious flu complications.
- Treat the symptoms using
- Tylenol (acetaminophen) for chills, fever, muscle or body aches
- Chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine or other anti-histamines for runny nose
- Dextromethorphan for cough
- Drink lots of fluids to keep hydrated
Please note: Do not exceed 4000mg of acetaminophen in a 24-hour period. This includes combination products which contain acetaminophen. It is important to read OTC labels for the list of ingredients before taking.
For more information on the flu, visit CDC website.