Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a viral illness passed from person to person in droplets from the respiratory system. While not as deadly as some other contagious diseases such as bubonic plague and COVID-19, every year there are deaths from this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, there were 34,200 deaths from flu in the United States during the 2018-19 season.
- Flu season is usually between December and February, although it can last as long as May. It is a good idea to get a vaccination, or flu shot, by the end of November. (In current times this is particularly important, to avoid fighting influenza and COVID-19 at the same time and to prevent the hospital system from being overwheled).
- Thorough hand washing with soap and water will wash away the virus or use a hand sanitizer with at least 70% alcohol.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue. Liquid particles can fly as far as 6 feet from a sneeze.
- Avoid touching your face; especially your eyes.
- If you have signs or symptoms of flu, stay home and recuperate to avoid causing an outbreak.
Signs and Symptoms
- Fever lasting 3 to 4 days
- Muscle aches
- Sneeze, stuffy nose
- Sore throat
- Inflammation of the heart, muscle tissue, or brain
- Sinus or ear infections
- Sepsis, the body’s life-threatening response to inflammation
- Respiratory failure
- Kidney failure
- Exacerbation of asthma or heart disease
- Tamiflu (oseltamivir) is the most commonly prescribed medication for the flu. It is taken twice a day for 5 days to treat symptoms and shorten recovery time, or once a day for 10 days for healthy people who have a household member or other contact with the flu. It is only effective when taken within the first 48 hours of symptom onset. Tamiflu may cause vomiting or diarrhea, and because of the side effects, it should not be started when more than 48 hours have passed, as the side effects will outweigh the small possible benefits at that later stage of the flu.
- Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) is taken as one dose by mouth within 48 hours of symptom onset, or in people who have been exposed to flu patients.
- Relenza (zanamivir) is delivered with the use of a diskhaler. Place the device into your mouth and inhale the medication. Hold your breath and remove the diskhaler. The medication is taken every 12 hours for 5 days. It is used to speed recovery and to prevent flu in people exposed to influenza.
Treatment is not a substitute for prevention and flu shots, but if you or a family member has symptoms of the flu, it is important to see your physician as soon as possible (ideally within 48 hours of symptom onset) so that you will still benefit from a possible antiviral therapy.
If you are unable to see your doctor in a timely manner, QuickMD can prescribe you Tamiflu online, from the convenience of your home and instantly send the prescription to your pharmacy.