Flu season is back and is now in full force across the country according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The PA Department of Health report for flu activity in our state as of January 6th shows a sharp increase in confirmed cases in over half of the state.
What is the flu?
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a respiratory infection caused by the influenza virus. It is a contagious illness that spreads through tiny droplets made when people cough, sneeze, or talk. People with the flu are usually contagious for 5 to 7 days after their symptoms begin.
The main difference between the flu and the common cold is that with the flu comes on much more suddenly. People with the flu may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Tiredness, weakness
- Sore throat
- Stuffy nose, sneezing
- Chest discomfort, cough
Most people with mild symptoms do not need medical care. The most important thing to do if you have the flu is to rest and avoid contact with other people to prevent spreading it while you are contagious. If you have a fever, you should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Below are some options for symptom relief:
- Stay hydrated with clear fluids, such as water, broth, or sports drinks
- For fever or aches:
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- For a stuffy nose:
- Humidifier or saline nasal spray
- For a sore throat:
- Gargle warm salt water
High risk groups of people, such as young children, those over 65 years old, and people with some chronic diseases (ex: asthma or diabetes) should seek medical care and may need treated with antiviral medicine.
Prevention is Key
The best defense to avoid getting the flu this year is the flu vaccine. It reduces your chances of getting the flu and will reduce the severity of the illness if you do end up getting the flu. You can get the vaccine at any time during the flu season, even in early spring if the virus is still circulating the country. Despite common misconception, the injectable flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. It normally takes about 2 weeks for your body to build immunity after receiving the flu shot, so it’s not too late to get the vaccine for this year.
Contact us or stop in today to receive your flu shot here at the pharmacy!