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It’s Flu Season. Part 2: More Prevention and the Treatment

This article is purely to provide information about Flu Season.
We respect each mom and her decision for her family.

Flu season is here. In this blog, which is the second of a two part series, we will review the prevention and treatment of the flu.

Besides the vaccine, especially if you will not get it, you need to keep good standard precautions.

  • Washing your hands and avoiding contact with ill patients or their secretions will help you avoid an infection, including the flu. These are precautions we should normally keep. But, we must be especially careful because this is still the flu season.
  • If you are infected, avoid others. Wear a mask and keep over three feet distance if you need to be with other people.
  • Vitamins C and D are helpful with prevention of viral infections.
  • Low stress levels, a good diet, and not smoking help with the symptoms. These promote a good immunological and pulmonary status. You are able to deal better with the threat of the flu.

Treatment

Once you develop the symptoms you have 48 hours (ONLY TWO DAYS!) to start a medication called Tamiflu. This is an antiviral medication that may help shorten the length of time of the symptoms.

My kids would tell you they are still undecided when choosing between the nasty flavor of the medication or the flu symptoms. As a mother and as a doctor, I am grateful this has helped in the past with the high fevers and quicker relief for them.

Antibiotics work on bacteria, which are a different type of organism than viruses or fungi. So, antibiotics do not kill viruses. Therefore, antibiotics should not be used for treatment of common colds or the flu no matter how bad you feel. This only helps to develop stronger bacteria and it becomes harder to fight them. You shouldn’t take them either because you missed the window for the Tamiflu just to take something. Take antibiotics only if you have a bacterial infection. Many patients with the flu will have what we call a “superimposed” bacterial infection, like a bacterial sinusitis. This is when you take antibiotics.

Well, this is still the flu season, so back to treating symptoms.

  • You need to keep hydrated to avoid other complications. With high fevers, vomiting and diarrhea, we need to replace the fluids. You might need solutions that contain electrolytes. Drink tea.
  • Eating fruits and getting plenty of rest help.
  • You can take medications to help with the fevers, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen. Don’t give aspirin to children because of a possible lethal complication called Reye’s syndrome.
  • There has been a lot of discussion about the use of syrups that contain phenylephrine. This medication should be used with caution. It is mainly used as a decongestant. But, it does alter blood pressure, pupils, and heart rate. Antihistamines can also be used to reduce secretions. Guaifenesin and dextromethorphan are used as expectorants to loosen secretions. Secretions are moved easier and you have less cough.

Coughing is a symptom that might not be simple to treat. The key is to treat the cause. With the flu, coughing can be caused by secretions, post-nasal drip, larynx inflammation, lung irritation, asthma, and even gastroesophageal reflux from medications, for example. Just for the sore throat you can take cough drops, honey, lemon. But, if symptoms continue, you need to consult a physician, especially, for any lung irritation, asthma-like symptoms.

It is still the flu season and we must continue to be vigilant.

The Florida Department of Health has a site dedicated to weekly updates. You will be able to see if your county is being affected that week. You can even check which type of facility had the most recent breakout, number of reported hospitalizations, and even deaths by age group.

Use your physician to guide you, as your counselor. Protect yourself and your family so we can continue to enjoy the rest of our winter and spring in the Sunshine State.

  Written by Dr. Myrdalis Dia Ramirez

Read: It’s Flu Season. Part 1: What Is The Flu and How We Can Prevent It First.

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