By Dr. Lauren Hedde
No patient ever wants to have the flu. Anyone who has ever had it knows how terrible the symptoms can be – fever, headaches, muscle aches, exhaustion, cough, sore throat, runny nose. If you’re lucky, that’s it! If you’re unlucky (or young, old, or with a weakened immune system) flu can lead to pneumonia, muscle breakdown, and in severe cases even nervous system and heart problems.
Obviously, the flu is not something any of us want. So, what’s the best prevention?
● Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use alcohol hand rubs
● Stay away from people you know are sick
● Get the flu vaccine every year
Facts about the flu shot:
● It takes two weeks for the immunity from the shot to develop in your body
● The vaccine generally prevents 50-80% of people who are vaccinated from becoming sick with the flu
● If you get the flu after being vaccinated, it will likely last a shorter amount of time and be milder
● The risk of complications from the vaccine is much smaller than the risk of complications from a flu infection
Wondering if you have it?
The diagram shows just how extensive the symptoms of flu can be. Of course, other viral infections can cause the same mix but typically the flu has higher fevers (above 102) and a mix of stomach, nose, muscle, joint and face/head symptoms all in one. (That’s why people are so miserable when they have it!)
If someone I know has it, what do I do?
If you know you have been exposed to flu then definitely contact your doctor for an anti-viral medication to start ASAP to try to prevent you from getting it.
Should I get a flu shot if I haven’t yet?
In my opinion, yes! It’s still worth it. Even if you get the flu after having the shot, it tends to be much less severe. And, if you can prevent feeling horrible for 1-2 weeks, isn’t that worth one tiny little shot?! I got mine :).
Elderberry might help:
● A study in the 2004 Journal of International Medical Research supported 2 teaspoons 4 times per day of elderberry extract as an alternative for patients who cannot take traditional anti-viral medications
● This extract is recommend within 2 days of onset of flu symptoms and should be taken for a total of five days or until symptoms resolve
Dr. Lauren Hedde DO is accepting new patients at Direct Doctors family practice in North Kingstown. Dr. Hedde offers 24/7 access, no waiting, same day visits, home visits, and a doctor who knows YOU well! Check out the Direct Doctors difference at www.directdoctors.org.