Chances are, you or someone you know has been affected by the flu this year. The peak season for the virus is December through February, making this time of year essential for taking all precautions necessary.
Dr. Ackley, physician at CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic Jefferson Avenue – Texarkana, obtained her medical degree from the American University of the Caribbean. She completed her internship and residency here in Texarkana at UAMS Southwest. She is 4 years into practicing medicine and is now settling into her new clinic on the Arkansas side, eager to welcome new patients.
She explains some of the common questions about the flu her patients have when visiting her office. Most are concerned with the side effects and timing of when they need their flu vaccine. Although it is rare, Dr. Ackley underlined that age can have an effect on how the body responds to the vaccine.
“The extremes of age tend to have increased risk of complications from the flu. Young children, older adults, and people with certain medication conditions (lung, heart, liver, and kidney disease) are at increased risk for complications like pneumonia, and even death.”
Dr. Ackley stresses the importance of getting the flu shot if you haven’t already. It isn’t too late and the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from the flu virus. Although the effectiveness varies yearly, it is still the most reliable method of prevention.
Other methods include avoiding close contact with sick people and identifying symptoms early on.
“Common flu like symptoms are the abrupt onset of fever that is usually in the range of 100-104F, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, runny nose, and cough.” She explained that, “a healthy person is typically contagious 1 day prior to symptom onset and anywhere from 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.”
If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work and limit your interaction with people while contagious. Wear a face mask, cover your coughs and sneezes with the inside of your elbow or tissue, and wash, wash, wash your hands.
If you catch the virus early enough, within 48 hours of symptom onset, a prescription for Tamiflu is available to treat symptoms and shorten the duration of illness.
“Supportive care includes Tylenol and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen that are helpful due to their fever reducing properties. Throat lozenges and cough syrups are also useful for symptomatic treatment.”
It is important to increase fluid intake and rest while sick, be sure to eat well too. Avoid public places until fever-free for 24 hours minimum.
December 2017 alone, Dr. Ackley’s clinic, CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic – Jefferson Avenue had 20 patients positive with the flu. The CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital in Texarkana reported 170 cases of flu for December 2017, while the Atlanta, Texas location reported 92 cases.