Flu season is upon us. The flu is a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system affecting the nose, lungs, and throat.
Dr. Jeff Salvon-Harmon with Presbyterian offers simple steps to take to prevent getting the flu.
He explains the most important way to prevent the infection is to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is the most effective form of prevention and Dr. Salvon-Harmon says it provides a level of protection that you don’t need to think about once you’re vaccinated.
Washing your hands or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often, especially in public areas, also increases your chances of preventing the flu. Covering your cough or sneeze is also encouraged.
Dr. Salvon-Harmon says a cold is different than the flu as they are caused by a different virus, have a slow onset of symptoms, and affect the nose and throat. The flu has a sudden onset, usually within 24-hours, and are characterized by muscle aches and exhaustion in addition to typical cold symptoms.
The flu also has a higher risk of complications such as pneumonia for those at risk such as young children, those with chronic illnesses, and pregnant women. Generally, 24 to 48-hours after the muscle aches go away, you are much less infectious.
Flu antivirals have been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent complications of the flu. If flu symptoms persist, or if there is pain in the chest and a change in the severity of the cough, seek medical attention.