With flu season in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest, many people are looking for ways to stay healthy - or aim for a quicker recovery period.
Dr. Ted Conklin, Medical Director at LifeWise Health Plan of Washington, joined Margaret to help clear up some confusion and share how to protect ourselves and others from catching the flu.
Here are some key points:
- If you haven't gotten a flu shot yet, it's not too late! Under the Affordable Care Act, they should be free to everyone who has a policy. Visit your primary care physician or call your health plan to learn more. For LifeWise members, some local in-network pharmacy options include Bartell Drugs or Walgreens.
- The current flu vaccine includes the predominant H1N1 strain that first appeared during the 2009-2010 pandemic.
If you're already sick, follow these simple but important tips to help speed your recovery:
- Get extra rest
- Stay hydrated; drink plenty of fluids
- Take a painkiller such as Tylenol, aspirin or ibuprofen to help reduce fever and body aches
- LifeWise members can call the FREE and private 24 Hour Nurse Line (it's listed on the back of your insurance ID card) for answers to more questions about your symptoms.
Not sure you're catching the flu or a cold? Here are a few ways to tell:
Common flu symptoms:
- Abrupt onset - over a few hours instead of a few days
- Fever ranging from 100 degrees F to as high as 106 F - usually continuous but can come and go, especially if you're taking a pain reliever/fever reducer like ibuprofen, aspirin or Tylenol
- Body aches
- Fatigue and loss of appetite
- Dry cough - runny nose and sore throat
Flu incubation period:
- Averages 2 days (1-4 days) from exposure to the time you develop symptoms
- Typically, you become infectious to others around 24-48 hours after exposure - the day before you feel sick - and usually continues until 5 days after (this is without treatment).
- Infection is primarily transmitted through sneezing and coughing through respiratory secretions (droplets from nose, airways and mouth). To reduce the risk for becoming ill, maintain a six-foot distance from the infected person, wash your hands often and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
What's NOT typically the flu:
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Many other viral respiratory infections are common this time of year. If your symptoms are relatively mild, have onset over days instead of several hours, or do not involve a cough (only a runny nose/sore throat), it's less likely that it's the flu.
- The predominant features of Mononucleosis are almost always a bad sore throat and severe malaise. Strep throat involves a sore throat and fever but typically, there's no cought present.