At high risk for the flu? Doctor urges shot

At high risk for the flu? Doctor urges shot

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ATLANTA -

Most of us are doing our best to dodge the flu. If you are one of the thousands of Georgians at higher risk of flu complications, you need to be especially careful.

The checklist of people considered high risk is pretty long: young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women, anyone with a weakened immune system, and people with chronic health problems like lung or heart disease.

Georgia got hit by flu season about a month early, and health officials say the number of flu infections has already hit a 10-year high.

OB/GYN Dr. Dawn Mandeville has been telling pregnant patients, and anyone else at higher risk of developing severe flu complications, to get vaccinated with the inactive form of the vaccine.
      
Influenza viruses are usually spread through the air, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Mandeville swears by hand sanitizer, but sometimes, you can do everything right and still get the flu.

"A lot of times this will come, it will rear its ugly head, and it will go away.  In pregnancy it may take a little bit longer," said Mandeville.

If you get sick, an antiviral medication like Tamiflu can decrease the severity of your symptoms.  You need a prescription from your doctor, and you need to take it within the first 48 hours for it to be most effective.

"A lot of times, that 48 expires before they realize, ‘You know what, I'm really sick here.'  So a lot of people miss that opportunity," Mandeville said.

If it's too late for Tamiflu, Mandeville says get some rest, keep up the fluids, and use over-the-counter medications like Tylenol to treat symptoms like fever.
   
"You need it treat it like it's a cold. Obviously if you get to the point where you have such severe coughing that you have shortness of breath, or you're dehydrated, you can't keep anything down, those are the indications for you to seek medical attention," advised Mandeville.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misery associated with the flu. You may have fever, body aches, chills, exhaustion, and a pretty bad cough for three or four days. But the symptoms can last a week to ten days.
     
Some people, especially children, also have nausea and vomiting. It's really important to get a lot of fluids to replenish the ones you're losing.

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