Symptoms of the Flu
Flu season has arrived! It’s very important to take steps to protect yourself and your family from the flu this year. The holidays are a busy time between shopping for gifts, cooking for family, and attending end-of-the-year functions. You want to be at your top form! Fortunately, there are plenty of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from the flu.
Colds vs. The Flu
Colds and the flu are the most common illnesses to affect people during the winter months. Knowing the difference between the two will help you treat them properly and get you on to the road to recovery much more quickly.
Congestion – Stuffy, Runny Nose
Aches and/or General Pain
Diarrhea and Vomiting (rare)
Some symptoms may be present in both illnesses. People may experience aches and pain or fatigue when they have a cold. Others may experience congestion when they have the flu. It’s also possible for you to have the flu without a fever at all.
For the most part, the biggest indicator between a cold and the flu is the presence of a fever. Take your temperature: if it reads above 100° and lasts several days, you have likely contracted the flu.
Protecting Yourself From the Flu
The flu is not a pleasant illness! It can put the healthiest person out of commission for weeks. If not treated properly, the flu can lead to life threatening conditions in some cases.
Unless you live in a bubble, there’s a good chance you will come into contact with the flu virus. Exposure to the flu virus can happen just about everywhere, from work, the grocery store, your local coffee shop, your family and friends, and more.
Minimizing your chance of getting the flu is as simple as practicing good hygiene and having an annual flu vaccine.
Taking extra precautions will further reduce your chance of getting the flu. These include…
- Wash your hands regularly
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth while out of the house, as you can easily contract the flu just by touching a surface an infected person has touched
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and wash your hands immediately afterwards
- Eat plenty of citrus, or take C-vitamin supplements to keep your immune system strong
- Keep an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you and use it regularly throughout the day, especially if you work in a public-facing role
- If you work in retail, restaurants, or another shared workspace, frequently clean your work station with alcohol wipes or disinfectant to prevent the flu from spreading
It’s also important to avoid spreading the flu. If you or your family member has symptoms of the flu, then stay home and don’t give your co-workers or classmates the flu!
Treating the Flu
If, despite your best efforts, you or your family has contracted the flu virus, you’ll need to take steps to treat flu symptoms to minimize the recovery time so you’ll get back to feeling better as quickly as possible. Treatment options include:
- Stay home and rest! You will prolong the recovery time by going to work or school.
- Take a fever-reducing medicine such as ibuprofen to keep your fever down.
- Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid caffeine.
- Use decongestants and antihistamines sparingly.
- If your doctor has prescribed an antiviral drug, take the full course of pills even after you feel better. Antiviral drugs are not antibiotics, but reduce the recovery time, can make symptoms milder, and can prevent complications from developing.
For most people, medical care is usually not required for the flu. Individuals at high risk for complications may want to seek medical advice.
High-risk individuals include…
- Adults 65 years and older
- Children younger than 5
- Women who are pregnant
- People with asthma or other breathing-related disorders
- People with heart disease
See the CDC’s guide for a full list on individuals at high risk for developing complications from the flu.
Flu Treatment at Florida Medical Clinic
For most people, the flu is inconvenient and uncomfortable, but does not require medical care. In some cases, adults and children may develop emergency symptoms of the flu.
Children may experience rapid, shallow breathing, not waking up or interacting with you, fever with a rash, and no tears while crying.
Adults may experience dizziness or confusion, difficulty breathing, persistent vomiting, and pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen.
In the event that you or your family member develops any emergency symptoms, consult Florida Medical Clinic’s Urgent Care Department.