How to know if you have the flu and what to do about it

Waking up in the morning to a scratchy throat is always something that scares me. Every time I just hope that it isn’t the flu. You know, that sickness that goes around every year and knocks you out of the game for a few days to a week. Lets learn ways to recognize the oncoming of a flu, vs just the common cold, or something more. Then we can look at the ways to recover quickly and completely.

About the flu

To determine if you have the flu, first we examine what the flu is. Influenza, more commonly referred to as “the Flu” affects 1/7 people in the world. In Canada alone, the flu resulted in 12 000 hospitalizations, and over 3 500 deaths. Certain groups are more susceptible to getting the flu more seriously than others. Older (65+) along with very young children (under 5), and anyone else who may have weakened immune systems, can be in a much more compromising position if the flu is contracted, than the population inbetween. The colder months are recognized as “flu season” because people contract the flu more in colder months than warmer. The reason for this is that if you are colder your immune system can be weakened, as well as spending time closer together can speed up transmission.

Transmission

The flu is an infectious disease transmitted from person to person and can be transmitted from sharing personal belongings. That is why it is important to stay home if you are feeling sick so you avoid infecting other people. The flu germs are able to travel about 6 feet, so steering clear of visibly sick people can prevent you from contracting the virus.

Symptoms

The first symptoms of the flu consist of the following:
  • Body aches
  • Fever of 37.8-40 degrees celsius
  • Headaches
  • Chills
Developing symptoms of the flu include:
  • Sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
While symptoms usually clear up and have you feeling much better  within 5 days, symptoms do have the ability to worsen.  If these symptoms get worse, they can lead to a potentially life threatening condition known as pneumonia.  You should see a doctor if you develop shortness of breath, tightness or pain in your chest, are dehydrated, Have symptoms lasting longer than 10 days or fall into an at risk category.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of the flu is usually simple and straightforward. Most doctors will be able to diagnose you from an explanation of your symptoms alone. Higher risk patients and those traveling may be asked to provide a sample taken from a swab for further testing. Tests from taking blood are not usually necessary as they do not provide the kind of information needed when it comes to the flu. Diagnostic imaging like chest x-rays are requested rarely, but used to rule out the chance of pneumonia and to ensure there is not a more serious issue on hand.

Treatment

The number one thing to remember when treating the flu is to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of fluids, mainly water is a key to fighting the virus. Virus sufferers may feel relief from staying hydrated, as it can replenish any fluids lost or being used by the body.
More serious cases may receive a prescription as a response to diagnosis, these include some medications that can be provided to stop the spread. These consist of antivirals; however, most antivirals are only effective within 48 hours of the first symptoms. These pills will help to alleviate some symptoms and encourage faster recovery. For cases which fall into a more severe category, the use of oxygen may be suggested in order to help the patient with breathing.
That being said, there are a variety of different over the counter medications that are used to give patients relief of individual symptoms. Ibuprofen and Tylonol can be taken to ease head and body aches. While sore throats can sometimes be curbed with throat lozenges and teas mixed with honey lemon and ginger; all soothing and anti-inflammatory ingredients. For that stubborn cough, cough syrups and medications containing DM or Dextromethorphan are used to suppress the feeling of needing to cough. Inhalers are also an effective way to prevent and treat a wheezing symptom.
The final solution for a feeling of tiredness that accompanies a case of the flu, is to rest. Taking time to allow the reccouperation of your symptoms is essential to a speedy recovery.

Prevention

Preventing getting the flu is a process that consists of many steps. These steps include good hand and overall hygiene, washing your hands often and keeping spaces clean is an effective way to deter catching the flu. Maintaining a nutritious diet can boost your immune system helping you fight off the germs that cause the flu. Next, annual flu shots allow the body to develop antibodies to that particular strain of flu. Finally and most obvious is to avoid contact with people who are already sick.
Hopefully, you will now be prepared for the flu seasons to come. What is the best trick you will use to deter the flu this year? If you feel like you have the flu, or want more information, don’t hesitate to contact Vital Urgent Care clinic and we are more than happy to assess your symptoms

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