Flu Prevention: It's Not Too Late

Dr. Suzanne Stovall, DO, family medicine, Houston Methodist Primary Care Group.

The Woodlands, Texas (March 10, 2017)  We’re not out of flu season yet. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza (flu) activity is still elevated in the U.S. and is expected to continue for several weeks.

So what can you do to avoid the flu?  Know the facts. The CDC shares the following information:

It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine, which is recommended yearly for everyone age six months or older. While the flu shot does not guarantee you won’t get the flu, it does reduce your risk of illness by nearly half.

Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. 

The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

·         Fever or feeling feverish/chills (although not everyone with the flu will have a fever)

·         Cough

·         Sore throat

·         Runny or stuffy nose

·         Muscle or body aches

·         Headaches

·         Fatigue (tiredness)

·         Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

For those who become sick with the flu, the CDC recommends prompt treatment with antiviral drugs, which are available through prescription from your doctor or healthcare practitioner.

“Prevention is paramount to avoid the flu,” said Dr. Suzanne Stovall, DO, family medicine, Houston Methodist Primary Care Group. “In addition to getting a flu shot, simple steps such as good hand washing and avoiding exposure to those who are contagious with the flu are helpful. If you think the flu has hit you, the key is to immediately see your doctor, who may prescribe antiviral drugs, which canlessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days.  They can also prevent serious flu complications like pneumonia. The sooner you start taking the medication, the better they work.”

Photo: Dr. Suzanne Stovall, DO, family medicine, Houston Methodist Primary Care Group. 

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