We are experiencing a particularly severe flu season

As the number of local flu cases increases so too is the concern about what to do if you think you’re getting the flu.

“Flu is easily spread and with this particularly severe flu season, it’s understandable that people may be concerned if they experience flu-related symptoms,” said Richard Vienne, D.O., vice president and chief medical officer at Univera Healthcare. “You can catch the flu just by being in the room with someone with the virus.

“The number one thing to do if you think you have the flu is to stay home and avoid contact with other people,” Vienne said. “From a public health standpoint you limit the risk of exposing others to the virus.”

If you think you have the flu, Vienne recommends the following:

·        Call your doctor as soon as you think you may have the flu. It’s best to make a call and not go into the office. A diagnosis can generally be made over the phone and if needed an antiviral medication can be prescribed. Antiviral drugs tend to shorten the duration of the illness and reduce complications when taken within two days of getting sick.  

·        If the doctor is not available, a telemedicine visit is another option. Telemedicine providers, such as MDLIVE, can address your condition and prescribe needed medications either by phone or video conferencing. The out of pocket copayments for a virtual visit are less than an urgent care visit and much less than an emergency room visit.

·        Is the emergency room an option?  There are certain times when emergency medical care is needed. It’s recommended to go to the emergency room right away if your condition worsens or you are in a high risk group. This includes young children, older adults, pregnant women and people with respiratory, cardiac or chronic conditions.

“It’s important to note that most people recover from the flu without complications,” said Vienne. “Be vigilant, protect yourself, and if you haven’t gotten a flu shot – it’s not too late.