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Treating Flu Symptoms

Published on 28 September 2015

For the last few weeks, Clark Kebodeaux, Pharm.D., BCACP, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, has been talking about the upcoming 2015-16 flu season. So far, he has discussed what happened last year, preparations for this year, and shared his recommendations to stave off the flu. Today, he will share tips on how to handle getting sick.

What can I do if I get sick?

Despite all precautions, some people will still come down with the flu. In that case, Kebodeaux says the best thing patients can do is stay hydrated and rest as much as possible. Over-the-counter medications will help relieve some symptoms like aches and congestion. To limited the spread of the flu virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting contact with others until 24 hours after a fever breaks.

Should I ask my doctor for an antibiotic?

Kebodeaux says antibiotics don’t work on viral infections like the flu. . While in most cases, treatment focuses on relieving symptoms while the virus runs its course, there are a few instances in which a patient might be prescribed antiviral medication.

“Antiviral medication, in an otherwise healthy person, will only reduce your symptoms by only a day or so,” Kebodeaux says. “It is important to reserve the use of those medications for the most vulnerable patients. The flu can be very serious for those who are pregnant or have chronic health conditions such as lung diseases, asthma, heart disease, or diabetes.”

More information and recommendations for preventing the spread of the flu is provided by the CDC. This season’s flu vaccines are now available at most pharmacies. In most cases, patients may receive a flu vaccine with no appointment needed. In addition to the flu shot, pharmacists can provide a number of other immunizations. The rules vary by state, so check with your pharmacist.

Up next, Kebodeaux looks ahead at the possible development of a universal flu vaccine.

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