Flu season is upon us. This is a true health concern for our community. Just two years ago, over 80,000 Americans died of complications of the flu, including about 200 children! By January 2018, KBTX reported all three hospitals operating at full capacity, “due to a high number of patients with flu-like symptoms.” Each hospital confirmed it was still continuing to accept patients at that time. While last year’s flu was less severe, indicators point to another severe season this year that will certainly result in tens of thousands of deaths.  To reduce the severity of the flu in our community we ask our friends, neighbors, and relatives to be informed and proactive in flu prevention and treatment. Here are 6 things about flu that our residents of Brazos County should be aware of during the 2019 flu season:

1. Who is at highest risk in flu season?

Babies age 6 months and under are too young to receive a flu vaccination and have incompletely developed immune systems. Therefore, they are among the people at highest risk for flu complications.  For pregnant women and those who are nursing — Flu vaccination is not only safe but receiving a flu vaccine during pregnancy can provide protection against flu for newborn infants for several months after birth.  Furthermore, it reduces the risk of Mom getting the flu and passing it to her newborn.

Weakened immune systems in elderly people put them at serious risk of flu complications, as well. But, even if you don’t fall in one of these groups, you can unsuspectingly be the source of infection to an infant or elderly person.  So, being conscientious to prevent yourself from getting the flu can protect you and those around you who may be more vulnerable.

2. How can you prevent the flu?

The CDC recommends that everyone in the U.S., of age 6 months or older get an annual flu vaccination. This is even more important for individuals who are at increased risk for flu complications and for people who live or work close to people who are at high risk. .  I fact, around 90% of the children who die of the flu each year are not vaccinated!  Furthermore, it is not possible to catch the flu from getting the vaccine.

To help prevent catching or spreading the flu virus, take these actions:

  • Flu Shot — Get an annual flu shot for yourself and everyone in your family.
  • Flu Contact — Keep away from people who have flu symptoms, and if you have the flu, stay home to avoid exposing others.
  • Flu Hygiene — Practice flu-prevention hygiene, including washing hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes and wiping frequently touched surfaces with antiseptic wipes.
  • Flu Cough — Cover your mouth with tissue when coughing.

3. What are flu symptoms?

Flu symptoms typically appear suddenly. If you have the flu, you may experience some or all of these common flu symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nasal dripping or congestion

Vomiting and diarrhea are common with the flu, although children are more likely to have these symptoms than adults. Also note that no all flu victims have a fever.

4. How is flu diagnosed?

Now that antibiotics specifically for the flu are available, and shorten the course and severity of the illness, getting an accurate diagnosis is important.  Frequently, your doctor can diagnose flu based on signs and symptoms, but sometimes, testing for the Flu virus is advised.  Two, rapid flu tests are available.

  • Molecular testing — Molecular testing provides very high accuracy in detecting flu virus, and yields results very quickly.  But they are more expensive and usually reserved for sicker patients or those at risk of complications.  CapRock can perform molecular testing at its Hospital and 24-Hour Emergency Center.
  • Normal flu testing — While less accurate at detecting the flu, these tests are still very helpful for patients at lower risk of complications and are available at CapRock Urgent Care locations at Jones Crossing and Century Square.

5. What are the flu vaccine options?

During the 2019 flu season, there are multiple ways to access flu vaccinations and these are available beginning now.  You can usually get a shot from your doctor, your pharmacist, or from walk-in clinics.  CapRock Urgent Care locations at Jones Crossing and Century Square have a limited number of doses available on a first-come basis.  Please call us for details 979-314-2323.

6. What is the best flu treatment?

Flu treatment can be divided into medications that shorten the actual infection and medicines that improve the symptoms.  Antiviral drugs stop the infection and should reduce symptoms, shorten the time you have the flu by a day or two, and reduce the risk of complications such as pneumonia and death. Flu treatment with antiviral medicines is especially valuable for people who are at high risk for complications from flu.T

Symptomatic treatment is largely based on over the counter medications and are best tailored to the symptoms:

  • Fever, aches, fatigue — Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or Acetaminophen (Tylenol) are very effective for fever, aches, chills and fatigue.  Aspirin should not betaken as treatment for these symptoms.
  • Dehydration — Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased fluid intake can all lead to dehydration.  While rehydration solutions such as Pedialyte are ideal for rehydration, simple water is also excellent.  Just avoid fluids with sugar as this worsens diarrhea.
  • Vomiting – There are no over the counter medications that help much with nausea or vomiting, but these can be prescribed, if needed.
  • Coughing — There are no over the counter medications that help much with coughing, but these can be prescribed, if needed.  Some relief can be found from cough lozenges that contain menthol and by using a vaporizer (not humidifier).
  • Nasal drainage — Antihistamines decrease nasal drainage, but often cause drowsiness.
  • Nasal congestion – Afrin nasal spray and Sudafed can reduce nasal congestion.

CapRock Health, College Station, TX

At CapRock Health, our providers bring many years of experience in the diagnosis and treatment of influenza and its complications.   

Together with the area’s best care team, our providers offer the region’s best urgent and emergent medical care with state-of-the-art facilities and diagnostic technology to maximizes our ability to help you get well fast. 

Finally, our patient support system helps our patients through the insurance and billing processes.

For more information about flu prevention, symptoms, and treatment, or other medical care available at CapRock Health, College Station TX, call our helpful staff anytime at 979-315-2323.