If you’re watching the local Dallas-Fort Worth news stations, you’ll know that flu season is here. The Dallas County Health Department and individual doctors urge people to get vaccinated now. Infectious disease physician Steve Davis, M.D., gave some tips to WFAA-Channel 8’s Jason Wheeler about why vaccinating is important.
As the medical director of Baylor Irving’s emergency department, Charles Su, M.D., may see a lot of folks who skipped their flu vaccines. He offers this advice if you think you have the flu.
Stay Home and Rest
- Remember you are contagious up to 72 hours after contracting the flu.
- Stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever has resolved.
- Protect other well family members by making a sick room if possible. Limit exposure, cover your cough and practice good hand-washing.
Prescription Flu Drugs
Prescription flu drugs can shorten the course of your illness if taken within 48 hours of your symptoms.
Use OTC Medications
Over-the-counter medications will help to bring symptom relief and shorten the duration and severity of symptoms.
- Treat fever and body aches with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Pediprofen). Do not take on an empty stomach. Sometimes you may have to use both ibuprofen and acetaminophen to reduce the high fever and body aches.
- Avoid aspirin in children with flu-like symptoms since this has been associated with severe liver and brain damage.
- Take cough suppressants to reduce and ease a cough.
- Decongestants can help with a runny nose and also help reduce the swollen mucus membranes of your nose and sinuses.
- Expectorants can help to loosen the mucus and alleviate a cough.
- Consider probiotics and anti-diarrheal medications if diarrhea starts. Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate and replace fluid loss. Make sure your urine output is regular and the urine is not too dark.
Home remedies can be a major help in relieving symptoms.
- Gargle warm water to moisten a sore throat and bring some relief. You can use honey (avoid in less one-year-old), tea and lemon juice.
- Steamy water or a vaporizer can be used to moisturize your nasal passages.
- Blow your nose softly, and use warm water and saline to reduce congestion and sinus pressure.
If there is any confusion or signs of altered mental status, see your physician. Other warning signs could be problems with breathing, problems with dehydration, and/or severe and persistent vomiting and diarrhea
Remember to receive a flu vaccination every year. This is the best way to prevent seasonal flu. Recommendations are for all adults and children greater than six months of age. People with higher risk of severe flu illness are pregnant women, elderly, people with multiple medical problems involving chronic lung disease.