It’s that time of the year again, where cough and cold season picks up. Allergies and asthma go hand in hand and those symptoms are often made worse as viruses, such as the flu, are spread. For those with asthma, like many of our patients, they are at especially high risk for flu complications and even in those without, the flu can still be deadly.
As we head into flu season, Allergy & Asthma Specialist, Dr. Yogen Dave, answers some of the most common questions our patients ask about the flu and how to avoid it.
When is flu season?
Flu season typically starts in October, peaks in the winter, between December to February, but can run as late as May. The flu can be a debilitating disease, and unfortunately deadly as well. The CDC estimates that over 10 thousand people annually die from the flu, as well as leading to hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations yearly.
How is the flu spread?
The flu spreads from person to person, and is thought to be largely transmitted through droplets that are produced from people with the flu when they cough, sneeze, or talk.
These droplets aren't just spread through the air. The flu can be transmitted by touching doorknobs and handles that an infected person may have touched which is why it's so important to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
What are flu symptoms?
Many feel as though their symptoms come about all of a sudden, rather then gradually. The most common flu symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
How can I limit my chance of getting or spreading the flu?
The best way to limit the spread of the flu, is to get the flu vaccine. Although the vaccine will not cover every strain every year, it can prevent you from getting sick from the flu. It has been shown to reduce hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu. Even in those who get sick from the flu, the vaccine often reduces the severity of the disease.
In addition to getting vaccinated, there are some easy, daily preventative measures you can take to reduce your chance of getting sick.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow or a tissue. Be sure to promptly throw away used tissues and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 60 seconds at a time (the time it takes you to sing the Birthday song). An alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used but it still requires you to rub your hands together.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects such as doorknobs, light switches and counters and always disinfect areas where an ill person has been.
- If you're sick, stay home if possible to limit exposing others.
Is there a treatment for the flu?
For those who do come down with the flu, there are also anti-viral drugs that help lessen the length and in some cases the severity of the illness. These medications work best if they are taken within 48 hours of getting sick.
Antibiotics are not prescribed for a cold or the flu, as they are ineffective against viruses. However, your doctor may prescribe them to treat complications of a cold or flu such as an ear infection or bronchitis.
If you haven't yet, now is the time to speak to your doctor about receiving your flu vaccine and other preventative measures, especially if you have asthma or another condition that puts you at high risk for getting the flu.
And when in doubt, get checked out. Any prolonged, severe or worrisome symptoms should be evaluated by your doctor.
Advanced Specialty Care is a multi-specialty private practice caring for patients in Fairfield County, CT for over 30 years. We are committed to the well-being of our patients. In addition to Allergy & Asthma, we have expertise in Ear, Nose and Throat Disease, Head and Neck Surgery, Audiology, Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, and Dermatology and Skin Care. Our six, convenient Connecticut offices include, Danbury, New Milford, Norwalk, Ridgefield, Southbury and Stamford.
If you have questions about asthma, the flu or another health concern, or would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (203) 830-4700 or simply click here to fill out an appointment request form.
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