By Dr. Alwyn Rapose
Division of Infectious Diseases
Reliant Medical Group
It may not have been a remarkably bad winter weather-wise here in New England, but there have been plenty of cases of the flu. In fact, many states throughout the country are reporting high numbers of cases with influenza infection. Many schools and workplaces have also reported large numbers of people absent due to the flu.
While the flu is a nuisance for most Americans, it can be a matter of life or death for the very young, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with underlying heart, lung and kidney diseases. The flu is an illness that needs to be taken seriously.
A flu shot is recommended to reduce the chances of getting the flu. Rough estimates for the current flu season suggest that approximately 40% of Americans received the flu vaccine. However, this leaves a majority of Americans potentially exposed to the flu virus. It’s important to note that the flu season often stretches into the warmer months, and it’s not too late to protect yourself with a flu shot. The flu vaccine does not provide total protection against getting the flu, but even if you do come down with the flu, most experts believe it can help decrease the severity of the symptoms.
Most healthy people will recover from the flu on their own. However, your doctor might recommend an anti-viral medication if you are very sick or fall into certain risk groups. Anti-viral medications are available by prescription only. They can make your illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. Most importantly, they can also prevent serious complications from the flu. Your doctor can tell you more about whether an anti-viral medication is needed for your symptoms.
How to Avoid Getting the Flu:
- Get a flu shot!
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick with coughs and colds
- Clean your hands often with soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand rub)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school
- Live healthy – get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food
Learn more about what to do if you contract the flu at this CDC website:
About Alwyn Rapose, MD
Originally from India, Dr. Alwyn Rapose now enjoys practicing medicine in Massachusetts. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester and liked the experience so much that he stayed on board for another year as Chief Resident. He then completed his Infectious Disease fellowship at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas.
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