This post was written by Dr. Aditi Joshi, an emergency medicine 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.
The dreaded flu is caused by the Influenza virus and is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world, estimated to cause millions of cases a year. The virus is airborne, and spreads from contaminated surfaces and people who have been infected. Because the virus incubates(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, Certain strains can also cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
- Length of illness is usually 5-7 days which is how long adults are generally contagious. Children can be contagious as long as they have symptoms.
- Flu Vaccine: Prevention is the key to treatment. For those in which the flu vaccine is safe, it is highly recommended. While it does not cover all strains of the flu, it helps decrease severity of symptoms, risk of hospitalization, length of illness and contagion.
- Handwashing: Handwashing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the flu virus.
- Supportive Treatment: rest, fluids, meds for cough, fever, and congestion. Also staying at home and isolating to avoid passing it on to others.
- Anti-Virals: Antivirals, such as Tamiflu, can be used within 48 hours of symptom onset. Tamiflu is not indicated for everyone so talk to a physician to find out if you need to take it.
- Because the flu is a virus, antibiotics are ineffective.
Despite prevention and treatment, the flu can cause severe side effects and is estimated to cause 200,000 hospital admissions per year. It can lead to a viral or bacterial pneumonia, causing sepsis, heart, kidney, lung failure and death. Most people recover without being hospitalized or having secondary bacterial infections, however it should not be treated lightly.
If you are concerned you may have the flu, use JeffConnect® to go over your symptoms without leaving the house. We will assess your risk factors and determine the best course of treatment. Staying home also decreases the risk of infecting others!