Influenza is one of the world’s most common ailments; most of the time individuals get better in a matter of days to a week or two. Even so, it is not something to take too lightly. The best preventative is to get a flu vaccination – in some cases, antiviral drugs can actually prevent the illness in people who know for a fact they’ve been exposed. Regardless, infections can still happen, though they may be less severe and long-lasting if you’ve been vaccinated or taken an antiviral.
Symptoms can often be similar to that of a cold, but they tend to be noticeably more severe. These include a fever, often accompanied by chills, fatigue, body aches and, in some cases, gastrointestinal distress. Other symptoms may include coughing, runny noses, sore throat, and headaches. If you’re wondering if what you have is a cold or flu, it’s worth noting that fevers with colds can happen, but they are more common in children; increased body temperatures are typically mild or nonexistent in adults with a cold bug.
I’ve Got the Flu. What Now?
First, you should stay home from work, avoid contact with others, drink plenty of liquid to avoid dehydration, take it easy, and rest as much as possible. (If you’re looking for an excuse to catch up on your Netflix queue or your reading, this is it.) It’s also important to treat symptoms, such as coughs, as you would during a cold. Steam, cough syrups containing expectorant, such as Robitussin DM, and other common over-the-counter treatments for cold and flu symptoms may also be helpful
If you’re wondering if there is anything further you can do to speed recovery, the antiviral drugs mentioned above are known to shorten the duration of the flu by about a day. The best known of these is Tamiflu (oseltamivir). On the other hand, be aware that, since influenza is a virus, antibiotics are in no way helpful for dealing with the flu. Worse, overprescribing of antibiotics is a known cause of resistant bacterial strains, an extremely serious national health problem.
Flus are usually minor ailments, but be aware they can lead to bronchitis, pneumonia and other potentially very serious issues. Be particularly careful if the person with the flu is a child/infant, elderly, or dealing with a pregnancy or other important health issue.
When to See a Doctor
- (Within the first 48 hours) If you want an antiviral medication to speed recovery
- When your temperature is 102 or higher in an adult.
- When vomiting, earaches/ear discharges, or wheezing occurs.
- When symptoms persist or worsen, including coughs and other respiratory/throat issues
If you think you’ve got the flu, take care of yourself. If you haven’t got your yearly flu-shot yet, consider getting one! And, if you’d like to speak to a physician to help out with any of that, don’t hesitate to contact us at the number on this page. You can also reach out to us via e-mail through our contact page. We’re here to help!