Tip of the Week: How to detect and treat the flu early

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fluJanuary 4, 2015- By Steven E. Greer, MD

The CDC has classified the flu outbreak as an epidemic, which is actually an arbitrary definition. Nevertheless, the strain this year seems to be spreading more than usual, evading the vaccines prepared.

I contracted the flu sometime around December 31st. No one was coughing around me, but the virus likely came from the metal handles and so forth of the restaurants I was visiting for New Year’s Eve. Then, I am sure that I rubbed my face or nose, and voila, I got sick.

The flu shot is still your best defense, even though its effectiveness is low this year. Vaccines are not black and white, all or none, therapies. A bad vaccine will still help to reduce one’s symptoms if they contract the virus. You can walk in to the Rite Aid pharmacy in Brookfield Place and get a free vaccine.

However, if you suspect that you might be sick, the earliest signs will be fatigue. If you are sleeping more than normal, be suspicious.

An infected person will then feel mild aches and pains, known as a “malaise”.

A dry cough is the most unique symptom of this flu. If you start to cough, check your temperature right away. The flu will cause a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or more.

If you catch it early, you might be able to prevent the really bad prolonged cough and fever if you take a medicine called Tamiflu. I took Tamiflu when I developed a cough, and the cough stopped within six hours. I must have prevented the damage to the lungs which leads to the wet productive cough and high fever.

You should also be sure to drink fluids. Aspirin will reduce the fever. I think it is safer than Tylenol. Your doctor should be guiding your therapy.

This morning, 24-hours after taking Tamiflu, I am almost symptom free.

Word of caution: avoid urgent care centers that are staffed by non-MDs. They will give you wrong advice.

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