How to Do The Flu

January 01, 2014

Simply getting a flu shot, frequently washing hands with soap and water, and avoiding close contact with those who are sick can go a long way toward a flu-free season.

However, if influenza strikes, Providence Health & Services’ 10 urgent care locations offer convenient, quick care. In fact, with extended hours and shorter wait times than ERs, urgent care may be your best option to know whether you have a cold or the flu. “That’s where we can help. We evaluate whether you have the influenza virus,” says Jason Ho, MD, Providence Medical Group’s associate director for urgent care.

Dr. Ho says “sudden” symptoms may be a tip-off it’s the flu. “The sudden onset of severe aches or high fever—this is a major clue.”

Other flu symptoms may include:

  • Cough, sore throat and runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting or diarrhea

Flu Fighting

While most healthy people fight off the flu, prescription anti-viral medications are recommended for those at high risk of complications, including the elderly, those who have chronic medical conditions or are severely ill, and pregnant women.

Time is of the essence. “Anti-viral medications for influenza need to be taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms,” Dr. Ho says. Any later than that, and the virus takes hold.

Dr. Ho also cautions that anti-viral medication is not a quick fix. “It shortens the duration of your flu symptoms by one to three days. Symptoms may be less intense. But anti-viral treatments are not a magic bullet,” he says.