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Doctors express offers tips to remain healthy during flu season

Dec. 19, 2013 |

By Carley Dangona carley@thereminder.com SPRINGFIELD – The cold and flu season is here once again. Doctors Express, a same-day urgent care provider with locations in Springfield and West Springfield, continues to educate the public about the differences between a common cold and the flu and when to seek medical treatment. “It’s not too late for this season to get a flu shot,” Dr. Marie Vitale told Reminder Publications. “So far, this season has been very mild.” She explained that the optimum time to get a flu shot is in September and October because “it takes time to take effect before the season.” Cold-like symptoms not usually manifested by the flu include a sore throat, minor aches and pains, mild fatigue, coughing and expectorate of mucus, nasal congestion and mild chest discomfort. Flu-like symptoms that warrant a visit to the doctor include a fever more than 103-degrees Fahrenheit, chills, headaches, severe body aches and pains, extreme fatigue, severe chest discomfort, earache, lightheadedness and fainting. Vitale noted the flu comes on suddenly whereas colds progressively worsen. Generally, people come down with the flu within a week of being exposed to it. Her “common sense” recommendations to stay healthy include getting an annual flu shot, washing hands frequently, avoiding close contact with those that are ill, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy. A simple way to protect oneself during the flu season is to carry a pen to hit buttons instead of using your finger on ATM keypads, elevators, etc. Carrying a small bottle of the proper hand sanitizer (at least 60 percent alcohol) is a good idea as well. She added that while the duration of the cold and flu season fluctuates each year, January and February are when most people get sick. Vitale said there are some prescriptions that can shorten the duration of the flu if a patient is treated within the first 48 hours from the onset of symptoms. “Come in early,” Vitale said, stressing the importance of seeking treatment. “The medications can [also] prevent infection in high-risk patients that have been exposed to the flu.” Both a flu mist and a vaccination are available. “Some people just don’t like shots,” Vitale stated. She said that the mist is an available option for people age 5 to 65, but cannot be administered to patients with chronic illnesses, asthma, respiratory illnesses, or immune deficiencies. Vitale cited remaining “well-hydrated” as one way to combat the flu. “To decrease the spread of infection, stay at home and rest. Don’t go out in public or back to work until the fever is gone,” she said. For more information about Doctors Express, visit www.doctorsexpressspringfield.com.

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