Giving and receiving gifts with friends and family is fun during the holidays, but you may come home from your holiday party with more than you bargained for. With holiday gatherings and yuletide cheer comes sneezes, coughs, and fevers.

So, what exactly is the flu and what can you do to treat it? Rachel B. DiSanto, a physician at Statesville Family Practice, shares her advice of what do to if you catch the flu.

About the Flu
The flu, short for influenza, is a virus that infects your respiratory system. It is spread from person to person through infected droplets produced from sneezing and coughing.

“Flu is a very serious illness that kills up to 5,000 Americans per year on average. It is very dangerous for the elderly, infants, pregnant women, those with underlying lung or heart disease, and those who are immunocompromised, such as cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy,” said DiSanto.

Normally, a person is contagious one day before symptoms start. According to DiSanto, symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Fatigue

Symptoms typically last a few days, but may persist up to two weeks.

“If you are having persistent high fevers, trouble breathing, or want to be tested for influenza, you should call your primary care provider,” said DiSanto.

Your primary care provider can check if you have the flu with a quick nasal swab test.

Treating the Flu
The flu is no fun, and most of the time, you just have to let your body fight off the virus. But, luckily there are a variety of ways to lessen the severity of your symptoms.

  1. Medications
    There are several over-the-counter medications that can ease your flu symptoms. Tylenol or ibuprofen can help your fever and aches.

    “Over-the-counter decongestants and cough medicines should help flu symptoms as well. You should look for ingredients like acetaminophen, guaifenesin, dextromethorphan, and chlorpheniramine. Make sure to check with your primary care provider first if you have high blood pressure or history of heart disease or stroke,” said DiSanto.

    In severe cases, there are antiviral medications that your provider can prescribe, like Tamiflu.

  1. Home Remedies
    In addition to medicines, you may want to try some home remedies.

    You can try gargling with warm salt water a few times a day to relieve scratchy and sore throats. For a stuffy nose, DiSanto recommends a neti pot. The saline solution can loosen mucus and moisten the skin in your nose.

    DiSanto suggests taking a steamy shower or using a humidifier as well.

    It’s also crucial to drink plenty of fluids.

    “Staying hydrated is one of the most important things,” said DiSanto.

  1. Get Rest and Stay Home!
    “You should stay home and get rest to avoid spreading it to others and to give your body the time and rest it needs to fight the infection and heal,” said DiSanto.

    Don’t try to keep up with your normal, day-to-day activities. It’s important to relax and get some much needed rest.

    If you have the flu, you should avoid strenuous activity, alcohol, and tobacco.

    “Flu can also be contracted at the same time as COVID, significantly increasing someone’s risk of dying, so it is vital to get your flu and COVID vaccines and seek care if you are having severe symptoms,” said DiSanto.

DiSanto practices at Statesville Family Practice, located at 310 Davie Avenue, and sees patients of all ages. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Rachel B. DiSanto, you can call the office at 704-873-3269.

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