Tuesday, February 4, 2020
By: Andrew Dinh, D.O., Primary Care, UT Health Hill Country
The flu, properly known as “influenza,” is a contagious illness caused by a virus that infects the nose, throat and, at times, the lungs. The common cold infects the same areas, but it is caused by a completely different virus.
Cold viruses are much more common than flu viruses and can occur year-round. Flu activity typically increases in October, peaks between December and February, and can last until May.
Getting a flu vaccination every year is the best way to reduce your risk of getting the flu.
The flu comes on suddenly and strong, with symptoms that typically include:
Cold symptoms come on slowly and are less severe. They typically include:
Both a cold and the flu are very contagious. As soon as you feel symptoms, take these precautions to protect your friends, family and community:
A quick, in-office test performed by your primary care doctor can confirm a flu diagnosis. From there, your doctor can determine the best course of treatment based on the severity of your symptoms and your medical history.
While most people do not require antiviral medication, some are at a higher risk for developing complications. People with a higher risk typically include adults who are older than 65, young children, and those with asthma, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.
People with the flu tend to be most contagious within the first three to four days after their symptoms appear. Therefore, plan to stay home until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicines.
Most people who become sick with the flu will usually recover in less than two weeks.
Here is what you can do if you have the flu:
If you must leave the house, remember to:
Andrew Dinh, D.O., is a primary care physician at UT Health Hill Country, a part of UT Health San Antonio. UT Health San Antonio is the regional leader in providing high quality and complex care to patients in South and Central Texas. Appointments can be made at UTHealthHillCountry.org or 210-450-6800.