We all know the best way to prevent the flu is to avoid sick people and wash your hands. And when that doesn't work, Doctor Jennifer McKay says there are a few things you can do at home to slow the flu illness down.
"You can start with things like Tylenol or Sudafed. Any of those over-the-counter medications to treat your symptoms. But beyond that it's mostly rest. And probably some chicken noodle soup and some tender loving care from your mom," McKay said.
Stronger, prescription drugs like Tamiflu can also help, but they aren't going to cure your ailments completely.
"Usually we say that if you start Tamiflu within the first 48 hours, then you'll have some benefit. But currently we're trying to make sure that we allocate Tamiflu for high-risk individuals. Those people will be anybody less than the age of five or anybody over the age of 65. And then certainly anyone with medical problems such as asthma, diabetes or other chronic illnesses," McKay said.
Even if you believe you have influenza, McKay says going to your physician is not always necessary.
"The sign that you would want to actually seek medical attention would be if you're having trouble breathing. Certainly if you have a loved one who has a high enough fever to experience maybe some mental status changes or confusion. Or if you see signs or symptoms of dehydration, especially if it's in a child. That's when you would probably seek out medical help," McKay said.
Even though there are still plenty of vaccinations available to the public, if you're starting to feel the symptoms coming on already, it might be too late to get the shot.
"We're seeing that people who have been vaccinated, if they do contract the flu, they have a shorter duration of the illness. But people who haven't had the vaccination and do get the flu are going to be miserable for about a week," McKay said.
According to the Center's for Disease Control, this year's vaccine can reduce your risk of getting the flu by 60 percent. And if you aren't sick yet, and you still need to get your shot, there are still vaccinations available.
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