Flu shot, precautions can help in avoiding virus


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Doctors recommend a flu shot for people older than 65, pregnant women and people with diseases such as COPD, asthma, heart and nervous system disorders.

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It’s here again — cold and influenza season. Mount your defenses by getting your sleep and keeping the hand sanitizer in use.

“For flu and cold prevention, the best thing is to avoid anyone sick,” said Dr. Evangelia Fotopoulos, a family medicine physician of the Steward Medical Group in Melbourne. “The other thing is soap and water and hygiene and hand sanitizer. If someone is coughing, stay at least 3 feet away from the person.”

Fotopoulos also recommends wearing a mask over the nose and mouth if you are sick and going to the doctor, or you have an appointment and will be waiting in the office.

“In close proximity in care facilities, you have more of a chance to catch the flu,” Fotopoulos said. “Not only if you catch it, it can linger on surfaces such as doorknobs and remote controls. It is important to clean afterward.”

She recommends coughing and sneezing into a tissue and disposing of the tissue and then washing your hands. Usually those are the key factors.

“I recommend a flu shot for especially high-risk young patients, people older than 65 and pregnant women and people with diseases such as COPD, asthma, heart and nervous system who are at higher risk,” Fotopoulos said. “Flu immunization shots have been effective even in previous years when not as effective against the special strain. It helps you keep from getting complications.”

Self-limited flu usually goes away in two weeks, added Fotopoulos. Fever goes away in about two to five days.

“Anything over 100 degrees is considered a fever,” Fotopoulos said. “Influenza virus is muscle and headache and a general fatigue with coughing and sneezing. These flu-like symptoms are very general. Be aware during flu season an incubation period is one to four days. Give yourself time for your body to fight this.”

Treat it by staying home, resting and getting plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, advised the doctor.

“Get electrolytes into the body and have chicken soup because it has electrolytes,” Fotopoulos said. “If you feel like you are not getting fluids in and the fever is not responding to home remedies, then contact your family care provider and get tested for the flu.”