By Mercy's Jeff Raymond
Not only does this time of year bring colder temperatures, it also brings more colds, coughs, influenza (flu) cases and other respiratory illnesses.
As you battle the winter season, remember to wash your hands often; keep your stress level down; get plenty of sleep; eat well; exercise; and limit your exposure to people who are sick.
Additionally, one of the best ways to protect against the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination. Although the flu vaccine does not fully protect against all strains of the flu virus, it does provide some protection and is highly recommended each year. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, it’s not too late.
Flu is a serious respiratory disease that kills an average of 36,000 people and hospitalizes more than 200,000 people in the United States each year, making it the leading cause of vaccine-preventable death in our country.
While the number of reported hospitalizations in Pontotoc county has been small – five between Sept. 28 and Jan. 6, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health numbers – the flu has kept providers busy.
Dr. Audra Cook, who practices at Mercy Clinic Primary Care Ada, said she has seen a “surge” of flu cases since the holidays. Although this season’s flu vaccine hasn’t proven as effective as in the past, it does help minimize suffering when someone contracts the flu.
“Even though the flu vaccine is not spot-on this flu season, it does offer some benefit and immunity to the flu,” she said.
Cook said she looks for the three classic flu symptoms – aches, fever and cough. If a patient has these symptoms, she tests them for the flu. Many come back positive, but some don’t because the common cold, some respiratory viruses and other germs can mimic the flu.
The first two days of having the flu are critical.
During this time, Tamiflu, an antiviral medication, has the best chance of working, as does supportive care, such as resting, drinking plenty of fluids and taking over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and decongestants. However, the best advice she can give applies regardless of whether someone has the flu.
“Taking care of yourself is going to boost your immune system,” she said.
To make an appointment with Dr. Cook, call 580-453-3156 or visit 201 N Monte Vista in Ada.