People erroneously refer to many different viral illnesses as “the flu.” They call diarrhea and vomiting “stomach flu,” when actually influenza has nothing to do with it. When you get the flu, you know it. At first, you think you are going to die. Then, you hope that you do die to end your suffering.
Perhaps the most profound symptom of true influenza is the body aches. You feel like a truck ran over you. There is often a high fever, and of course, sore throat and headaches. Sometimes, even your hair hurts! If you look and feel like hell, then you probably have the flu. If your child wakes up with classic flu symptoms, don’t send them to school. Most community epidemics start in the schools, so don’t be the one who starts it.
Just like the rapid strep test, many medical offices have a rapid influenza test. If there is any doubt that a person has influenza, I will order this quick and easy office test. If the influenza test is positive, I can at least offer the person some antiviral medication, like Tamiflu. Tamiflu doesn’t cure the flu, but it does reduce the severity and shorten the course by a few days.
No one can really predict the severity of this year’s flu season. I certainly hope we have a mild one. If enough people get vaccinated early, perhaps we can contain the spread of this traditional killer again.
I am amused when people stay he “just has the flu.” Over 35,000 people in the U.S. die each year from the flu. In 1918, several million people died during a global influenza pandemic, and it can happen again. We all thought the H1N1 was going to be another big one, but fortunately, it was effectively contained.
Do your part and get flu vaccines for yourself and your family. It’s cheap insurance that can save your life of the life of someone you love.
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