This post was written by Dr. Aditi Joshi, an ER physician and Medical Director of JeffConnect. JeffConnect On-Demand Video Visits ‘connect’ Jefferson emergency doctors to patients anytime via phone, tablet or computer- to treat a variety of minor illnesses, answer medical questions, and prescribe medications when appropriate.
Winter makes most of us think of holiday season, snow, hot chocolate and staying warm. For us in healthcare, it also means the beginning of the dreaded “Flu Season”. JeffConnect staff wanted to share some basic information about the flu and what you can do to stay healthy this winter.
The flu is caused by influenza viruses (there are multiple strains) and is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world, estimated to cause millions of cases per year. It is an airborne disease and can be spread through saliva and mucus by people who have been infected. Because the disease incubates, or remains asymptomatic, for 1-4 days, one can spread it to others before realizing they are ill.
- It tends to come on suddenly and includes fevers, cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue, heart racing. Certain strains can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and high fevers.
- Length of illness is usually 5-7 days (a very long 5-7 days as most people feel so ill, they stick to their bed).
- Prevention is the key to treatment: the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months or older who can receive it. It takes about two weeks to kick in.
- Anti-viral medications (most of us are most familiar with Tamiflu), if started within 48 hours of symptom onset, can decrease the length of disease.
- Because the flu is a virus, antibiotics are ineffective.
- Other treatments include: rest, fluids, and medications for cough, fever, and congestion.
- Despite prevention and treatment, influenza can cause severe side effects and is estimated to account for 200,000 hospital admissions per year. Most people recover, but in some cases, it leads to a viral or bacterial pneumonia, can cause sepsis, heart, kidney, lung failure and death. The risks are higher in children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with certain health conditions.
How JeffConnect can help:
As outlined, the flu is extremely contagious and makes people feel pretty sick. If you know you may have been exposed to the flu and spike a fever, it’s important to start Tamilflu within 48 hours or sooner if possible. You can use JeffConnect to find out if your symptoms are consistent with the flu and possibly get a prescription without leaving the house. It can save time and risk of exposing yourself or others.
While we hope you have flu-free holiday season, we are available 24/7 for you and your family. Happy holidays!