This time of year, through March, many people call our office with symptoms, wondering whether they should be seen for a visit. Generally, most illness that involves congestion in the head or lungs will resolve with rest, fluids and patience in about 7-14 days. This is because most illnesses are caused by a virus and it needs to run its course. But it is important to distinguish what you can wait out at home, versus what should be evaluated. Young children, people with chronic conditions like asthma, COPD, diabetes and heart failure and people over the age of 65 are most at risk for severe complications related to common viral illness. Complications can include respiratory distress or dehydration, so patients should come in if they feel like they are having symptoms they can not control on their own at home. Unfortunately, there are many symptoms that we can not eliminate and we often give the advise above: rest, fluids, patience.
If you are feeling sick and want to figure out whether you have influenza, or “the flu”, here is a list of common symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Flu symptoms tend to come on very quickly and feel overwhelming, whereas a common cold is more likely to sneak up on you. Both are treated with rest, fluids and patience. If you suspect you have influenza, please stay home to limit the spread!
How can I prevent the flu or other viruses?
Please wash your hands!! Many viruses are spread through droplets in the air or on surfaces. Smoking makes your risk for catching illness much higher and it also makes it hard for your body to get rid of illness, so stop smoking. And finally, consider a flu shot. The vaccine is not foolproof, but it’s the best prevention we’ve got! It tells your body to go on defense, so the virus can’t invade. It takes about two weeks to start working, so now is the time to come in for your vaccine.
If you got the shot last year and still ended up with influenza, you were not alone. Many people still got sick, but illness was less severe and again, vaccine is the best prevention option we have!
Where can I get a flu shot?
We are currently giving out flu shots at Wiscasset Family Medicine and already we are receiving phone calls with people worried about symptoms. If you are well, come in for a flu vaccine! If you are sick, stay home and rest, unless you feel your symptoms are unmanageable. We are here to help!
Happy Autumn everyone, stay well and enjoy this amazing time of year!
Cortney Linville, DO
****For more information on influenza AND the influenza vaccine, please check out the CDC website. They have the basics and will post how effective this year’s vaccine is, as soon as they know. If you are looking at Dr. Google, at least go to a good website!