The word “flu” gets applied to plenty of intense illnesses that don’t last long. True influenza, though, is a respiratory infection caused by a virus. It doesn’t usually affect the gastrointestinal system unless you’re a child, so nausea and vomiting without respiratory symptoms is not influenza.
For most people, the flu comes and goes on its own, developing quickly and lasting between seven and ten days. While the symptoms can be severe enough to put life on hold for much of that time, you’ll likely recover without medical intervention.
There are some cases where complications set in, and catching the flu means that you’re able to transmit the virus to those around you who may be more vulnerable to those complications. While flu vaccinations aren’t 100% effective, they’re the best way to live your life while avoiding the flu virus.
The team at Millennium Park Medical Associates in Chicago recommends annual flu shots for their patients. The vaccines are safe and help to protect you and those people who are important to you. Sometimes, the virus still prevails. Here’s what you need to know for when it does.
Late fall, winter, and early spring are known together as “cold and flu season.” Sometimes, these respiratory infections seem quite similar in symptoms, and the two illnesses can be mistaken for each other.
The most significant difference is usually the speed of onset. Colds are typically slow to develop, while flu is fast. It may be 24 hours between the time you first feel something is off and when you’re laid low by flu symptoms. With a cold, the descent may take several days.
If you have a fever, you probably have the flu. Fevers aren’t common with the cold virus, nor are chills. When body and headache symptoms prevail, flu is also more likely, though you may experience mild versions of these with a cold.
Stuffy nose and sore throat, on the other hand, are generally more severe when you have a cold, and you’ll sneeze more too. Depending on your specific symptoms, it’s easy to be confused by them.
What to do if you have influenza
In most cases, self-care at home is the way to treat your flu symptoms, provided you’re healthy, and have no conditions that could increase your risk of complications. These conditions include:
- Being over 65 years of age
- Being under the age of 5
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
- Any condition that raises your risk of stroke
If you’re free of these risks, the fever that accompanies your flu is often a good indicator of where you are in the infection’s progress. Avoid going out or being around vulnerable people until your fever has been gone for 24 hours unless you must seek medical care or life necessities. Before this time, you’re likely able to transmit the flu virus.
Beyond that, the standard home treatment rules apply. Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Over the counter medications for reducing fever are good but don’t give aspirin to anyone under the age of 19 since it’s connected with a rare side effect called Reye’s syndrome.
Keep your home humid, or sit in a steam-filled bathroom to improve breathing. Cough treatments and lozenges can help congestion and sore throats.
Contact Millennium Park Medical Associates if your symptoms persist or get stronger. Talk to the team when you get your flu shot if you’re at high risk from the flu since some antiviral medications may help ease your symptoms if they’re administered early in your illness.
You can call the closest office directly or book your appointment online using the convenient link. Prevention is the best way to deal with the flu, so get your shot early, every flu season.