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What you need to know to stay healthy this flu season
Jessica Tackett, DO
Greenbrier Family Clinic-A Baptist Health Affiliate
When is flu season expected to reach its peak?
The flu season is different each year but most often peaks during the month of February.
How many cases of the flu have there been so far this season in Faulkner County?
As of early January, there had been more than 115 confirmed cases of the flu this season in Faulkner County.
What are the most effective ways to prevent against illness?
The best way to prevent the flu for individuals 6 months or older is to get the flu vaccine. Those younger than 6 months or who have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a dose of the flu vaccine in the past should not get vaccinated.
There are also several everyday methods to prevent against illness including avoiding contact with people who are sick, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with the eyes and mouth, and frequent sanitizing of surfaces.
What are the primary symptoms of the flu?
The onset of flu symptoms is usually sudden and includes fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, fatigue and less often vomiting/diarrhea.
What should you do if you are showing those symptoms?
At the onset of symptoms, it is important to see your healthcare provider for testing and treatment. Antiviral medications may be a treatment option but are most effective if started within the first 48 hours after symptom onset. Some individuals are at higher risk for complications if infected by the flu and treatment varies depending on these such factors. Symptomatic therapies including fever reducers, adequate hydration and rest are also vital components of flu treatment.
What flu vaccines are recommended this season?
There are several flu vaccines available including inactivated influenza vaccine, recombinant influenza vaccine and the live attenuated influenza vaccine. Afluria, Fluzone and Fluad are trivalent vaccines (protect against three different flu viruses). Quadrivalent vaccines (protect against four different flu viruses) include Afluria Quadrivalent, Fluarix, FluLaval and Fluzone Quadrivalent. Different flu shots are approved for different age groups.
What's the difference between a cold and the flu?
The common cold and the flu are both respiratory illnesses and may have similar symptoms but are caused by different viruses. Flu symptoms are usually more severe as are complications of the flu such as pneumonia and other secondary bacterial infections.
Jessica Tackett, DO, practices family medicine at Greenbrier Family Clinic-A Baptist Health Affiliate. The clinic, located at 49 S. Broadview St., Suite 1, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. To learn more, visit baptist-health.com or call (501) 679-4030.