FLU 101

BACTERIASFlu Season is about to begin….so it’s time for a quick refresher on how to deal with THE FLU.




This is a particular type of respiratory infection (severe), at a particular season in the year (late Fall, Winter…into early Spring).  It is caused by a specific set of viruses Influenza type A & B.


The symptoms of the flu are just like those of any respiratory infection, but they generally are more severe, and the older you are, the greater the chance that you will be sicker when you get this infection.



Flu is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Fever over 100 degrees
  • Significant muscle aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Significant cough
  • Persistence of these symptoms for a few days at high levels of symptomatic bother.



To have THE FLU you do not have to experience every one of the above symptoms, but when the above symptoms occur together, during the ‘flu season’,  then you are likely to have THE FLU.  


Beyond the constellation of symptoms listed above, occurring during flu season, THE FLU can be diagnosed with a nasal swab test.  The accuracy of this test is a bit mixed.  Some of the newer tests are quite accurate, but they are not generally available, and we routinely make the diagnosis of THE FLU based on clinical symptoms combined with the status of THE FLU noted to be in the community.




There is a medication that can help reduce symptoms of THE FLU.  It is not an antibiotic, but anti-viral agent.  The treatment is:


TAMIFLU:  This pill is taken twice daily for 5 days in treatment of THE FLU.  It is best when started within the first 72 hour of symptoms developing, but can be used anytime in the course of the illness and will hasten your recovery.   Nausea is the biggest side effect of this medication.





Treating the symptoms of THE FLU can help make you feel better while your body fights and resolves the infection:


For Fever, Aches & Pains:  


Tylenol, Advil or Aleve are very helpful, and which one you choose is based on your own personal experience of what works best.


Tyleneol 650-1000mg….3-4 times per day

Advil (Ibuprofen) 600mg…..3-4 times per day

Aleve (Naproxen) 440mg….twice per day



For Sinus, Drainage, and Cough Symptoms:


  • Decongestants (Sudafed 30mg…little red pill) Take 1 pill…. 1-4 times per day for relief of congestion and drainage.  This is best taken earlier in the day or afternoon as it can keep you awake.
  • Drying antihistamines (Chlortrimeton 4mg, Benedryl 25mg)  Take 1 pills….1-4 times per day for relief of congestion and drainage.  These are best taken later in the day or at night as they tend to make you tired.


  • Cough Suppressants:  (Robitussin DM or Delsym).  Take 2 teaspoons as indicated on the bottle to prevent excessive coughing
  • Mucous agents:  Mucinex has mixed results, but some people do find it effective.  Taking 2 pills twice daily can help make mucous thin out and resolve more quickly, but this varies person-to-person.  I generally do not recommend this medication.


REMEMBER TO DRINK GOOD AMOUNTS OF LIQUIDS.   This is key to preventing dehydration from fever and excess sweating.  Eat what appeals to you, but don’t feel that you ‘must eat’….eat only if interested, but make sure you drink.  48 oz is a good amount to shoot for, but a little more is even better.







THE FLU can be prevented through several methods:

  1. Get your Flu shot.  October through December is the best time to get this done.  I definitely recommend it for  anyone interested in preventing infection, all people older than 65 years, and anyone with underlying health conditions that reduces their immunity or which makes them more susceptible to respiratory infections
  2. Wash your hands a lot and try not to shake hands all the time, especially during FLU SEASON.
  3. TAMIFLU pills, taken daily, are a good preventive and useful if someone in your home has been diagnosed with the flu. They are strongly effective and safe.


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