By Will Hezlep, PAC–The Everett Clinic at Stanwood
As we have all heard, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. It is not likely that Benjamin Franklin was considering flu vaccines when made this famous quip, but the principle applies. Prevention through annual vaccination is the best management strategy for influenza, especially due to the challenges of treating a virus once a person is infected.
Consider the following:
- Antibiotics do not aid in the treatment of viruses.
- Symptoms of the flu are typically much more severe than that of the common cold.
- You can expect to miss between 1-3 days of work/school if you are infected, and the illness can last for a few weeks.
- Flu vaccinations are readily available now, but may become scarce as the season progresses.
Symptoms of influenza generally include:
- High fever
- Body/muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Weakness or severe fatigue
All of these symptoms have differing levels of severity depending on the person. People with underlying medical conditions like asthma, diabetes, COPD or other respiratory-related illnesses are at increased risk for developing complications from the influenza virus.
Most otherwise healthy people can manage the flu with home care including:
- Rest, preferably bed rest
- Hydrating with water
- Managing the fever and body aches with over-the-counter cold/flu medication
Hydration and rest cannot be overstated. There are a few medications that can be used to decrease the severity and improve outcomes from the virus. However, they are typically only used if symptoms started less than 48 hours prior or the patient fits other age/disease criteria.