(Cleveland) - This is believed to be the earliest flu season in nearly two decades.
If you wake up in the morning and feel the sudden onset of aches, chills and fever – you know something isn’t right, but is it the flu?
According to Kristin Englund, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, there are some tell-tale signs that what you’re fighting is more than the common cold.
“Usually, but not for everybody, you get a fever,” she said. “Certainly you get a cough, feelings of shortness of breath, body aches, just overall really tired feelings – those can be indications for influenza.”
With a common cold, Dr. Englund said people will feel run down and uncomfortable, but influenza is different and much more serious.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu infected more than 42 million people last season, and was responsible for about 61,000 deaths.
Dr. Englund said it’s important to recognize flu symptoms early on, because there are anti-viral flu medications available that can help with the symptoms of influenza.
However, these medications are only effective if taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Classic influenza symptoms include fever, aches, chills, tiredness and a sudden onset. But the flu is highly contagious, so Dr. Englund said it’s best to call a doctor before heading out into the public.
“You want to call your doctor – we’d certainly prefer that you call – or you use one of the online apps, so that you can reach a doctor quickly; get started with the treatment, without necessarily coming into the office and exposing a lot of other people, who may already be sick with something else,” she said.
Aside from taking anti-viral flu medications, Dr. Englund said rest is the most important thing a person can do to speed up recovery. Also drink plenty of fluids, and take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help with pain.
(Photos by Ken Robinson/WTAM & Cleveland Clinic)
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