Preventing the Flu

What is the best course of action for ypur family when it comes to preventing the flu this season? The first response is to get everyone in the family who is six months and older, a flu shot. You can also take everyday precautions like washing your hands frequently… and not just a quick rinse. Singing “Happy Birthday to You” or the “A-B-C” song, twice, will make sure you spend enough time washing those germs down the drain.

If you are the caretaker of someone with the flu, you may want to look into taking anti-viral medications to help prevent the flu, or to help reduce complications of the flu by making your virus milder. Other medications may help relieve some of your flu symptoms. If your flu progresses to a bacterial infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics. None of these drugs will make you less contagious!

Antiviral medications are used to prevent or treat the virus; some shorten the duration of symptoms. These medications work best if started within the first two days of becoming sick, so seek medical advice as soon as you experience flu-like symptoms to see if these antiviral medication are right for you, especially if you have any high risk medical conditions.

Health and Age Risks May Include:
Asthma
Blood disorders
Chronic lung diseases
Heart disease
Kidney or Liver disorders
Morbid obesity
Those over 65 or children under 5 years
Pregnant women
…and these are just a few.

Flu symptoms include: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Antiviral drugs have side effects, too, such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, runny or stuffy nose, headache, diarrhea and other, less common behavioral side effects. Your pharmacist can assist you with more information about side effects and flu symptoms.

Even if you receive antiviral medications to fight the flu, realize this is the second line of defense and you should still get the flu vaccine. The flu shot is always your best bet to prevent influenza.

Remember, antibiotics only help if you have a bacterial infections.