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What should I do about the flu?

~ As Appeared in the January 2018 Issue of North Shore News ~

A. Influeza is sweeping through the nation, and Hawaii is no different. If you have not had your flu shot, get one immediately. The vaccine is effective for roughly 30 percent of the H3 flu strains and can ease the severity if you do contract the illness.

In the beginning of the season, we saw patients predominately with influenza A. Now we are seeing more influenza B, or H1N1. Hawaii’s flu season peaks later than on the mainland so it’s not too late to get your vaccine, and it may protect against the B strains. If you have symptoms — fever, chills, congestion, body aches, cough, headache, fatigue — see a doctor as soon as possible.

A simple test will determine if you have the flu. Tamiflu, a popular antiviral medicine, is most effective within 48 to 72 hours after symptoms start and can shorten the flu’s duration and reduce the severity. Stay home and avoid contact with people. You need bed rest and fluids. Typically we recommend you restrict activities at least 24 hours after the fever goes away, which can last as long as a week or more. If you have difficulty breathing, chest or abdominal pain, confusion, sudden dizziness or vomiting that won’t stop, call your doctor immediately. You may need to go to the hospital. If you are caring for someone with the flu, stay hydrated, wash your hands often, and it may help to wear a mask to protect yourself from their coughing or sneezing.

Come see us at the Kahuku Medical Center’s Primary Care Clinic. We are here to help you get well and stay well! Send us your pressing health question anonymously at http://www.kmc-hi.org/atd