You know the symptoms: body aches, chills, fever, sore throat, and the inability to get out of bed.
The flu can knock you down each fall and winter, and most people recover well, but the battle is harder for some. According to the CDC, up to 41 million people get the flu each year in the United States. Of this number, up to 710,000 are hospitalized, and up to 52,000 die.
If you get the flu, you want to prevent complications that can land you in the hospital or worse. Here are a few tips from the team at Arlington Family Practice on how to do just that.
Get a flu shot
The most important step you can take to prevent flu complications is getting a flu shot every year.
Scientists formulate the annual flu vaccine based on what they expect to be the dominant flu strains that season. That means you get better protection if you get the shot each year rather than relying on the previous year’s version.
The protection you get from the flu vaccine can make the difference between feeling bad for a few days and ending up in the hospital with pneumonia.
Seek treatment quickly
If you think you have the flu, don’t wait to see your doctor. You may be tempted to fight it on your own, but starting an antiviral prescription medication such as Tamiflu® within the first 48 hours of symptoms appearing can reduce the length and severity of those symptoms.
Get a pneumonia vaccine
Lying in bed with the flu puts you at higher risk of a secondary bacterial infection in your lungs that can cause pneumonia. Pneumonia makes it harder to breathe, and the bacteria can escape into your bloodstream and cause sepsis and organ failure.
Another layer of protection against this outcome is the pneumonia vaccine, which lowers your chance of getting pneumonia as you fight off the flu. The CDC recommends this vaccine for those 65 and older, those 2-64 with specific medical conditions, and adults 19-64 who smoke.
In addition to the above, take reasonable precautions to prevent getting the flu in the first place. Consider wearing a mask in crowded places and doctors’ offices, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face with your hands, and avoid large crowds as much as possible.
Our team specializes in treating and preventing flu. If you need a flu shot or treatment, make an appointment by calling our office in Arlington, Massachusetts, or booking online.