ON HEALTH ‘Tis the (flu) season!
‘Tis the season! Sadly, I don’t mean the holiday season. It’s flu season. People everywhere seem to have the sniffles or a cough/sneezing problem. There are those who have tummy issues such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But when are any or all of those symptoms actually a case of the flu? When is it time go to the doctor?
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the flu viruses. Some cases are mild, while others are more severe. People can, and sometime do, die from the flu. It is important therefore to know when do you have a cold (mild, severe or inbetween) and when do you have the flu.
Some of the most common flu symptoms are fever, feeling hot or cold, coughing, sore throat, nose issues (either runny or stuffy), various muscle or body aches, headaches and tiredness. Some folks also have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Many patients often say they feel like they have been hit by a bus, truck or train. For sure, you do not feel well and want whatever it is you have to go away.
The question becomes is it flu or a cold? Some general guidelines provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to help people decide:
When somebody has the flu, the symptoms appear abruptly. With a cold they are more gradual with one or two symptoms gradually accompanied by others. One big difference is those with a fever usually have the flu. Colds rarely do. Those with flu often have more severe body aches compared to a simpler cold. Another big difference between the two situations is the sneezing/stuffy nose/sore throat, which are common place with a cold, but not usually with flu. The headache is another symptom common with flu but rare with a cold.
A very important thing for everyone to remember is to know what your body feels like when it is well or “normal.” You need to be able to identify when things change. Again, a gradual change usually signals cold but abrupt on-set can mean flu.
There is really not a hard and fast rule for when you should go to the doctor. This is something you and your doctor should discuss during a wellness visit. When is it important for you to visit the office when you are feeling unwell? Elderly and young children are at high risk for flu complications. Patients with other diseases like heart conditions, diabetes and many other things need to know when it is best for them to be seen when symptoms occur.
Should you get a flu shot? Will it prevent you from getting the flu? Again, this is a discussion to have with your doctors. You need to remember that often times people still develop the flu, but hopefully the vaccine will ensure your flu is mild rather than severe. Do you have questions about this? See your doctor!