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Body aches, sore throat and runny noses: Is it the flu?

Body aches, sore throat and runny noses: Is it the flu?

Over the past few weeks, the staff at the Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic have seen an increase of influenza (aka, the flu) cases in Gillette, Wyoming. Below is some helpful information on how to protect yourself and your family from getting the flu, and how to treat your symptoms if you do get it.

What is the flu (Influenza)?

The flu is a virus that can cause mild to severe symptoms such as:

  • fever
  • cough
  • body aches
  • headaches
  • sore throat
  • nasal congestion
  • and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

Most healthy individuals can get over the flu on their own; however, young children under the age of 2, adults 65 years and older, and individuals with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, and illnesses that can weaken the immune system can become very ill. In these high-risk populations, the flu can sometimes lead to hospitalization and even death (usually due to complications from the flu, such as pneumonia). If you have symptoms of the flu, your doctor can test you for the flu if they feel that is necessary.

Is there a treatment for the flu?

If you are diagnosed with the flu within 48 hours of symptom onset, you can be treated with an anti-viral medication called Tamiflu (Oseltamivir). This medication works to prevent any serious problems that can be caused by the flu and can sometimes decrease the duration of your illness by one to two days, on average. It can also help to prevent the spread of influenza to others. Because the flu is a virus, antibiotics do not work.

Not everyone who develops the flu needs to take Tamiflu. Most healthy individuals will be able to fight off the illness on their own within 1-2 weeks. It is generally suggested that you use over the counter medications as needed to treat your symptoms, get plenty of rest, and drink extra clear fluids. NEVER give Aspirin to a child less than 18 years of age with flu symptoms as this can lead to Reye’s syndrome.

It is VERY important to stay home from work or school while you are sick to prevent the spread of the flu. Your fever should be gone for at least a full 24 hours without taking any medication to reduce your fever before you return to work or school.

Can the flu be prevented?

The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year. People who get the flu vaccine can sometimes still get the flu, but they will likely have more mild symptoms and will be less likely to develop serious complications from the flu.

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or alcohol rub any time before you eat. Try not to touch your mouth or your face without washing your hands.

If people are sick, it is best just to stay away from them until they are feeling better.

If I or my child has the flu, what are some reasons that we should see a doctor?

If you have any trouble breathing or shortness of breath, you feel pain or pressure in your chest or belly, you feel confused or dizzy, or if you have severe vomiting.

If your child is breathing fast or is having difficulty breathing, has any blue color to their skin or around their lips, you are concerned your child is not drinking enough fluids, your child is not responding when you try to wake them up, your child is so uncomfortable they don’t want to be held, or if your child gets better from the flu and then becomes ill again shortly after with a fever and a cough.

If you have any questions or concerns, never hesitate to contact your doctor or health care provider for further information and assistance.

Learn more about how you can protect yourself from the flu at www.cchwyo.org/flu411.

This blog was written by Val Amstadt, PA

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