North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

September 16, 2009

The influenza virus can spread rapidly, especially among children

(Continued)



However, for elderly people, newborn babies, and people with chronic illnesses, the flu and its complications can be life-threatening.



Treatment

Once a person has the flu, treatment usually consists of resting in bed, drinking plenty of fluids, and taking medicine such as aspirin or acetaminophen to relieve fever and the discomfort. There are different types of medications your physician may use to treat the flu.

Antivirals are prescription medications that actively attack the flu virus and stop it from spreading within your body. However, in order to be effective, antiviral medications need to be used within the first 12-48 hours of onset of symptoms.

Should you or a family member come down with the flu, antivirals like Tamiflu (oseltamivir), Relenza (zanamivir), Symmetrel (amantadine) or Flumadine (rimantadine) may be your best bet.

Many people think antibiotics should be taken for the flu. This is not the case. Antibiotics are used for the treatment of bacterial infections. The flu is a viral infection. Taking antibiotics for the flu may be actually harmful to your health.

Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments are medications you can get without a prescription from your physician. They are usually household medications such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and other products found at the pharmacy.



Prevention

Don’t have the flu, and don’t want to get it? Fortunately, there are some simple health-habit tips you can work into your life to decrease the changes of coming down with the flu. They obviously aren’t guarantees, just ways to give you peace of mind knowing you’re doing what you can to keep flu-free.

• Wash your hands: Many times the flu is spread by direct contact. The flu can also be spread through indirect contact from a family member or co-worker who sneezes on his hands and touches an object. Germs can live on objects for hours or sometimes even days. Hand-washing is a way to reduce the number of germs to which you are exposed.

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