‘Tis the season . . . don’t worry: we know that the holidays have passed, but flu season is still in full swing! In fact, it is reported that during in the 2017-2018 season flu activity has been greater than in prior years. That’s why it’s critical for people to be on the lookout for flu signs and symptoms.
Obviously, our goal at AFC Urgent Care Swampscott is to help everyone stay healthy and avoid the flu in the first place. That’s why we routinely caution people to wash their hands thoroughly and get vaccinated. However, while these actions can be hugely helpful in reducing your risk of getting the flu, it’s still possible to end up fighting the sniffles and feeling crummy.
Flu Signs and Symptoms
One question that we’re often asked is how to tell if someone has the flu. After all, patients who have the cold virus also tend to have:
- Runny noses and coughs
- Fever or chills
- Sore throats
- Muscle aches or headaches
The truth is that someone who has either a cold or the flu may suffer from each of these symptoms. What tends to differentiate the two is that flu symptoms are often more severe and come on full-force quite quickly.
Because the symptoms can be so similar, we use them as a guide. Then, we perform a quick test to determine whether it’s the cold or flu virus making the patient feel ill. The test generally involves a swab of the throat or nose. Within about 30 minutes, we can determine from which virus a patient is suffering and put together a treatment plan.
The First 48 Hours
As soon as you start to feel the telltale symptoms, visit a physician for the test. It’s critical that this be done within the first 48 hours of feeling symptoms, because this is when the virus is growing. The flu treatment works by slowing down the reproduction of the virus and stopping the virus in its tracks. This doesn’t mean that you’ll avoid all discomfort completely, but the treatment should lessen the impact of symptoms and help reduce the length of time during which you feel sick.
Because the flu can be so severe and may lead to other complications, like pneumonia, dehydration or sinus and ear infections, don’t just curl up with a bowl of soup and start binge watching Netflix when you start to feel sick this year. Instead, come in quickly to be tested. This is particularly important if you are part of a high-risk group, such as women who are pregnant, someone over 65, or someone who has asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
No one wants to spend days on end fighting discomfort, so educate yourself and others about the signs and symptoms of the flu. Get vaccinated. And, if you believe that you or a loved one has been in contact with the virus or is showing early symptoms, stop in AFC Urgent Care Swampscott for a test. Together, we can help you feel better more quickly and work to prevent the spread of this potentially dangerous virus.