Influenza (the flu) is on many minds right now. Just before the I left my office, we had three patients test positive for the flu.
Last year our flu season was really nonexistent. We are paying for it now. By the way my office has been the last few seeks, it is going to be bad: lots of cases of the flu, and lots of people getting fairly sick from it.
I am going to step outside of the character of this blog for a bit to outline the symptoms, diagnosis, dangers, and treatment of the flu.
Symptoms of the Flu
1. Fever–typically 101 or higher
2. Body aches– as in “I feel like I got hit by a bus” body aches
3. Cough, congestion or chest tightness
4. Generally feeling like crap.
Diagnosis of the Flu
The flu can be diagnosed simply based on the suspicions of your doctor. However, there is a rapid influenza test that confirms the flu in less than 5 minutes. Most physicians can do this test in their office.
Who is Most at Risk?
1. Age extremes: very young and very old people can actually get life threatening cases of the flu
2. Immunocompromised: people on chemotherapy, with diabetes or with lung or heart disease
3. Pregnant women
Treatment: Why, When, and What?
Treating the flu with specific antiviral medications can decrease the length of illness and decrease the liklihood of serious flu complications such as pneumonia.
Antiviral medications are ideally started within 48 hours of the start of symptoms.
In this area, Tamiflu is the most common treatment for the flu and is given twice per day for 5 days.
Please realize that IT IS NOT TOO LATE TO GET THE FLU VACCINE. We are in the beginning of what is bound to be an ugly flu season. Please consider getting the vaccine now especially if you are pregnant, or you care for elderly parents or young kids.
If you are not sure if your symptoms could be the flu, contact your doctor right away.