No doubt about it, flu season is upon us! The flu typically occurs from October through March and peaks during the months of December, January and February. Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness that is spread through respiratory secretions from person to person or by coming into contact with the virus on unclean surfaces such as clothing, doorknobs and shopping carts. Most people become contagious the day before symptoms appear and remain infectious for up to 5-7 days after symptoms begin. The flu can occasionally cause severe symptoms, particularly in high-risk populations such as children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, pregnant women, nursing home residents and certain people with chronic health conditions.
Your first instinct may be to reach out to your doctor, make an appointment and hope for relief in antibiotic form – however, research and studies have shown that antibiotics are ineffective against the flu and other viral illnesses. Antibiotics should only be prescribed for bacterial infections, such as bacterial pneumonia, urinary infections and strep throat. The majority of the time, respiratory illnesses, even sinus infections and bronchitis, are caused by viruses rather than bacteria and will not be helped by antibiotics.
Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics and are prescribed for the treatment of the flu in high-risk populations to prevent complications. If you are in a high-risk group and develop influenza symptoms, contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible. Antiviral medications to treat the flu are most beneficial if taken within the first 48 hours. Antiviral drugs can also be prescribed to decrease the chances of developing the flu in a high-risk patient that has been exposed. If you are in a high-risk group and have been in contact with someone who has the flu, call your healthcare professional as soon as possible to inquire about prophylactic (preventive) antiviral medications.
Most healthy patients with mild-moderate symptoms, don’t require medical care or antiviral drugs. Rest, hydration, use of over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or fever reducers and staying at home are the best measures to take. However, if you develop any of the following symptoms you should seek emergency medical care:
- Adults: Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest or abdominal pain, confusion, not drinking enough fluids which can lead to dehydration, sudden dizziness or severe vomiting.
- Children: Rapid or difficult breathing, bluish discoloration of the skin (especially the hands and face), not drinking enough fluids which can lead to dehydration, difficult or unable to wake up or interact with others, severe irritability (child does not want to be held), severe headache or stiff neck.
- Infant: An infant with the flu and any of the following symptoms should be taken to the emergency room immediately: Fever above 100.3 (if under 3 months old), unable to eat, no tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.
We Are Here
Barbour Community Health Association is always here to address questions and concerns regarding your health. We have walk-in hours available at Belington Medical Clinic from 7:30am-8:30am Monday through Saturday and at Myers Clinic from 7:30 am-11:30 am Monday through Saturday & from 1:00 pm-4:00 pm Monday through Friday. Our school-based clinics, Brandon Wellness Center and ABU Wellness Center offer walk-in hours from 8:00 am-12:00 pm Monday through Friday for students and staff at those locations. In addition to our walk-in hours, Barbour Community Health Association makes every effort to arrange same day appointments and see patients as soon as possible. You may contact us by clicking HERE.