Brookville Family Care - Prevention is Key as Cold and Flu Season Approaches

Primary Care Physicians Remind Patients of Habits That Can Keep Them Healthy

DAYTON, Ohio (October 24, 2011) – Cold and flu season is right around the corner. Area physicians want to remind community members of the steps they should take to help prevent a case of the flu or common cold: early flu vaccination this October and the adoption of preventive actions such as frequent hand washing and using antibacterial lotions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu and common cold are both respiratory illnesses caused by viruses that are spread through respiratory droplets. While the illnesses carry some similar symptoms such as body aches, tiredness and chest discomfort, they are distinguished by the severity of these symptoms as well as the presence of others. Symptoms such as fever, chills and headaches are common with the flu, while sneezing, a stuffy nose and a sore throat are more common with a cold. Cold symptoms usually develop more slowly over a few days, while symptoms of the flu appear suddenly and without warning.

“The common cold or flu can affect individuals of all ages,” said Dr. Nafisa Islam of Brookville Family Care. “While the symptoms of both viruses are similar, individuals who contract the flu usually suffer from symptoms that are more severe than those of a common cold.”

There are certain steps people can take to prevent getting a cold or the flu. First and foremost, individuals should adopt healthy habits, including frequent hand washing. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Secondly, it’s important people sneeze or cough into their elbow rather than into their hands to help stop the spread of germs. They should also refrain from sharing eating utensils and dishes.

Obtaining a flu vaccine also plays a large role in preventing the spread of flu viruses. The CDC recommends that  individuals six months and older get the flu vaccine each year, especially those who are at increased risk for developing complications, including the elderly, young children and people who are diabetic. Complications that can result from the flu include bacterial pneumonia, ear and sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure and asthma.

 “The flu vaccine is the single most important thing people can do to prevent contracting the flu,” said Dr. Islam. “It’s important we do everything we can to prevent outbreaks; if everyone gets vaccinated, outbreaks are less likely to occur.”

It usually takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body to produce antibodies that protect against the flu virus, and since flu season typically lasts from November through March, it is recommended that individuals get vaccinated in October. Individuals should review their current medications with their doctor before getting a flu shot. There are also minor side effects that could occur as a result of the flu vaccine, including soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, a low-grade fever or body aches. If these symptoms persist, individuals should contact their primary care physician.

If an individual does suffer from a cold or the flu, there are symptomatic treatments that a person can use while the body fights the virus, including over-the-counter medications to help with fever and body aches, and sinus medication and rinses to help with sinus pressure. To prevent the risk of allergic reactions or other potential side effects from occurring, individuals should consult their primary care physician before taking over-the-counter medications. Rest and hydration are also crucial to recovering from a cold or the flu. If caught early enough, there are antiviral medications, available with a prescription, for patients who test positive for the flu. Finally, if a person’s condition continues to worsen rather than improve, that individual should schedule an appointment with his or her primary care physician for additional treatment options.

“Some people think if they are prescribed an antibiotic early enough, it will stop the flu from running its course—that isn’t necessarily the case,” said Dr. Islam. “Regardless of how proactive people are in treating symptoms of the flu, they should make every effort to prevent the flu altogether.”

Individuals can visit their Premier HealthNet physician to get this year’s flu vaccine. To find a Premier HealthNet physician near you,  visit us online.

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