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7 things to do if you catch the flu

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The flu, also known as influenza, is an infectious disease caused by the influenza virus. There are two main types of influenza: influenza type A and influenza type B.

The 2019-2020 flu season started early in the central Illinois area in Peoria, but most of the cases were influenza B. During November and December, SIU Medicine partner hospitals reported only a few cases of influenza A, but many cases of influenza B. The latter causes a relatively minor illness with upper respiratory symptoms and most people recover with symptomatic treatment alone. However, the rest of the country, and especially the southern states, have seen widespread outbreaks of influenza A. A majority of them have been identified by the CDC as influenza A (H1N1/pdm09) virus, which is similar to the one that caused pandemic influenza in 2009.

Since this strain of influenza A as well as influenza B are in the current vaccine, everyone should get the vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones from getting flu. If you haven’t received the vaccine and are experiencing flu like symptoms, here are our top treatment recommendations:

1. Take your temperature

If you are feeling flu-like symptoms, the first thing you should do is check your temperature. A high fever is the first sign of influenza. If your temperature runs 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, you have a fever. It is important to continue checking your temperature throughout the day to ensure it is not rising.

2. Review your symptoms

Symptoms of influenza include high fever and chills, cough, nasal or sinus congestion, generalized body ache, headache, etc. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that you contact your doctor.

3. Get plenty of rest

Staying in bed and allowing your body to rest and recover is crucial in getting over the flu. Your body will just worsen if you are moving around and not allowing for healing time.

4. Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids

If you are experiencing flu like symptoms, try to prevent dehydration. If you have a high fever, you will be sweating more than usual, which means your body is losing liquids. Drink water throughout the day to replenish these lost fluids.

5. Use symptomatic treatments for fever, headache, body aches, etc.

A symptomatic treatment is a type of therapy that eases the symptoms of a disease or virus without addressing the basic cause. In the case of the flu virus, you can do simple things to elevate some of your symptoms. This can include reducing your fever, eliminating your headache, or relieving your body aches by taking over-the-counter remedies. Keeping your body cool will also help with fever symptoms.  

6. Contact your doctor

In the event that you have flu-like symptoms, it is best to consult your doctor with any questions and concerns you may have. By reaching out to your doctor, you can receive the medical advice needed to treat influenza, and they can also prescribe you medication if needed.

7. Take anti-viral medications prescribed by your doctor

There are anti-viral medications, which are effective if taken at an early stage of the infection. Patients with pre-existing heart or lung problems, diabetics, and other immunocompromised patients are most likely to benefit from these antiviral medications. Since these medications need a prescription, patients with symptoms of influenza should contact their physicians.

At SIU Medicine, we’ve seen more serious cases of influenza this year, and other related illnesses lately in Illinois. Many patients who are admitted in the hospital develop a bacterial complication leading to pneumonia. Patients with diabetes, chronic bronchitis, other lung or heart problems, smokers, and immunocompromised patients should take special precautions to protect themselves. These measures include washing hands, closing nose and mouth if someone has symptoms, and taking vaccines against flu and pneumonia.

At SIU Medicine, our primary care and family medicine doctors are committed to providing the highest quality care and ensuring optimal outcomes for our patients. If you have symptoms of the flu or concerns about the influenza virus, contact our team today at 217-545-8000.

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