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Flu Season is Here
It’s that time of the year again—flu season has officially arrived in New England. While some who get the flu suffer only minor symptoms, the virus is responsible for a significant amount of severe illnesses each year. According to the CDC, influenza has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses each year since 2010. In the same time frame, influenza has caused an average of 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually.
There are ways to reduce the chances of you and your family from getting the flu this winter including washing your hands regularly, cleaning communal surfaces and avoiding those who are sick. Getting a flu shot is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your chance of getting the flu. If however you do end up feeling ill, it helps to be able to identify whether or not the flu is causing your symptoms—here’s what you need to know.
What is the Flu?
A contagious respiratory illness, the “flu” is a commonly used abbreviation for a group of viruses (types A, B and C) known as influenza. While Type C flu symptoms tend to be on the more mild side, Types A and B are responsible for the annual flu epidemics that result in missed work, multiple days out of school, general discomfort that can last for a week or longer, and in extreme cases, even death. Some fall into “high-risk” groups and are more likely to experience serious flu-related complications than others, such as young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. The flu can also worsen already present conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes.
How Do I Know if it’s Influenza? What are the Signs?
It’s very common to mistake cold symptoms for the flu and vice-versa, as the two types of viruses mirror one another in many ways, such as causing coughing, sneezing and a runny nose. However, influenza is far more likely to cause significant symptoms, including the following:
- Body Aches
- Sore Throat
- Fatigue (sometimes extreme)
- Warm, Red Skin
Patients of all risk levels should seek immediate medical evaluation if symptoms include difficulty breathing, confusion, or a fever above 102°F, as these may be signs of a medical emergency.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have the Flu?
If you believe you or a family member may have caught the flu, a visit to ConvenientMD can help to clarify a treatment plan and get you back on the road to good health. For those who fall into high-risk groups, antiviral medications may be prescribed to help curb the severity and duration of symptoms. Those who are mildly sick with the flu can expect to get better with rest, hydration and fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Note that aspirin should not be given to children under the age of 18, as there is a risk of developing a serious (though rare) complication known as Reye’s syndrome.
Think it’s the flu? ConvenientMD is here to help. Just walk into any of our clinics in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire—you don’t ever need to make an appointment ahead of time to be seen.