SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Flu season is here and that means some of us may be missing work or school.
But doctors say knowing whether it’s influenza or a common cold could save you a trip to the clinic.
Next time you head to the store, you may consider stocking up on hand sanitizer like Andrea Mages is doing.
The mother of three says one of her kids has already been knocked down by a cold this season.
“He caught a fever, and it’s just… you can only do so much,” Mages said.
As temperatures outside go down, cold and flu cases start going up.
While there’s no cure for either, Dr. Kayli Reece with Sanford Health on 32nd and Ellis Rd. says antiviral medication can be prescribed to those battling influenza.
“Unfortunately they don’t stop the virus entirely, but they can decrease how quickly it’s spreading and decrease how long you’re sick, but they have to be started within 48 hours,” Reece said.
The tricky part though, is determining whether you actually have the flu, or just a common cold.
“You know it’s the flu most likely if it’s a quick onset of symptoms. You’re having fever, body aches, chills and it came on fairly quickly. Usually your other symptoms would include cough, runny nose, stuffy nose, headaches, those kinds of things,” Reece said.
She says people at higher risk of flu complications including pregnant women, people 65 and older and young children should pay close attention to those symptoms– and contact their doctor if they think they have the flu.
But if you’re not a high risk patient Reece suggests hunkering down at home.
“You’re symptoms are fairly mild, you’re breathing okay, you’re drinking okay, you’re handling it at home, yeah just stay home because there’s not a lot we’re going to be able to do for you anyway and chances are you’ll be fine,” Reece said.
And one way doctors say you can prevent getting the flu in the first place is by getting vaccinated.
Something Mages and her family have already checked off on their to-do list.
“Do as much as you can at home by washing, tell the kids if they have to cough or sneeze do it in the crook of their arm, and hopefully you can ward off anything too bad,” Mages said.
Reece adds if you have a fever lasting more than five days, you’re dehydrated or having trouble breathing you should visit your doctor.