It’s that time of year again–flu season is here. Each year as many as 30 million people contract the flu in the United States, leading to 20,000 deaths a year. At most risk are the elderly, those with chronic disease like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, and infants.
The flu is like a cold in many ways. Both are respiratory infections, but the symptoms can vary. A fever, general aches and pains and fatigue usually accompany the flu. You may also experience a sore throat, coughing or sneezing. If a cold is misdiagnosed as the flu, there is usually no problem. But the flu misdiagnosed as a cold can possibly lead to serious complications like pneumonia being overlooked. If you have any symptoms of the flu, you should contact your doctor as soon as possible.
There is no cure for the flu, but there are things you can do to make yourself more comfortable during the duration. The best course of action in dealing with the flu is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Fever can be treated with acetaminophen. Be sure to talk to your doctor to get advice about using a decongestant/antihistamine to treat nasal congestion. Antibiotics have no effect on the flu because it is caused by a virus.
And what about chicken soup? Well, it can’t hurt! Although it doesn’t cure anything, it can soothe a sore throat, clear clogged passageways, and hydrate you. It is good TLC at a difficult time.
If you do find that you are suffering from the flu, consider getting the flu shot next year. These are generally given in the fall and must be received each year, as the strains of flu vary from year to year. In the meantime, remember that time and rest is the best cures of all for flu sufferers.