Just because we are entering flu season doesn't mean those flu-like symptoms you're experiencing are from the flu; they could be something else. Knowing the difference between this season's commonly caught viruses can help you be more vigilant when it comes to intervention strategies. Dr. Ken Redcross stopped by ABC 7 on Thursday to share some helpful tips.
Flu season can start as early as October and can last as late as May, peaking between December and February. Medical experts have announced the strains of flu we need to be aware of this year are H1N1 and H3N2. The CDC recommends receiving a flu vaccine in October or earlier if necessary. Influenza is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages that can become further
complicated by pneumonia.
Signs/Symptoms: Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue.
Duration: Symptoms usually last 3-5 days, but in some cases can linger for a week or longer.
Intervention Tips: The homeopathic medicine Oscillococcinum has been clinically shown to shorten both the severity and duration of flu symptoms. When patients took it within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, nearly 63 percent showed "clear improvement" or "complete resolution" within 48 hours. Vitamins D and C are important to boost the immune system when recovering, along with getting plenty of rest. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours; teens 8-10 hours; school-age children 9-11 hours; and toddlers 11-14 hours.
Due to its misnomer "stomach flu" and a few shared symptoms, norovirus is often mistaken or mislabeled as influenza. It's actually unrelated to the flu but, ironically, it can result after flu has weakened the immune system. Norovirus is highly contagious and does not have a cure. It is the leading cause of gastroenteritis worldwide and typically it must run its course through the body, which can be unpleasant.
Signs/Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.
Duration: Symptoms usually last only 48 hours. If symptoms persist, it could be something else and you should see a health care professional to be properly diagnosed.
Intervention Tips: Hydrate with clear liquids that contain electrolytes and let the virus run its course. Since the virus is highly contagious, wash hands frequently; don't share food and drinks; and stay quarantined at home. Avoid contact with others for at least 48 hours after your last bout of diarrhea or vomiting.
This virus affects adults more severely, but it affects children under the age of 10 more frequently. It is named after Coxsackie, N.Y., the town along the Hudson River where it was first discovered. Known as "hand, foot and mouth disease," coxsackie is completely unrelated to "foot and mouth disease" that is found exclusively in livestock.
Signs/Symptoms: fever, runny nose, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, poor appetite and eventually blister-like rash on the hands, feet and mouth (Viral tests are available to confirm diagnosis but are rarely performed due to expense and length of time needed to complete tests).
Duration: Depending on severity, symptoms can last 3-7 days.
Intervention: There is no specific treatment for coxsackie so intervention should focus on controlling fever and staying hydrated. Consuming ice pops and yogurt help both. Also use a cool, damp washcloth on the forehead. Stay isolated from others until fever and skin lesions disappear.
For more personalized medicine tips visit www.drredcross.com or follow on Twitter at @DrRedcross. null
Flu season intervention tips from Dr. Ken Redcross