Is the flu hitting your home?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Local doctor discusses why flu is happening, how to get better

Flu season affected many this year, including daycares, schools and homes, and all had to find a way to combat the illness, some multiple times.

Dr. Lisa Roark, owner of Roark Family Health and Medical Spa, said she has been seeing a lot of influenza A cases.

“February is the peak of flu season,” she said. “Timing-wise, this goes along with what we generally see.”

Roark said that last year, she saw almost no influenza cases because the vaccination was accurate to which strains people would come across.

“A lot of people got vaccinated this year,” she said. “Unfortunately, the strain that we are seeing this year was not in our flu shots.”

Roark said that is the reason so many people this year are getting it.

“They look at other countries to see which flu has been common in area over the last six months or so,” she said. “Then they put the most common strains in the flu shot. There are different flu shots as well, some are trivalent, so they have three different strains.”

Roark said the shots her office had, as well as the Health Department, were quadrivalent which had four strains.

“There were strains of influenza A in those shots, but there are many different sub types of influenza A,” she said. “They use an educated guess as to the most likely strains that will hit us.”

Roark said it is much like with H1N1, that vaccine wasn’t in the flu shot at that time, which is why so many people got it.

“The symptoms are the same across the many different strains,” she said. “Some people think the flu is a stomach bug, but it’s really not.”

Roark said the symptoms of the flu are high fever, body aches, headaches and some kind of respiratory symptom, like cough, congestion or sore throat.

“We have actually seen some people with rashes, which is kind of unique,” she said.

Roark said the big thing to remember is that if someone is sick or their child is sick, people should stay home.

“People have to work so they treat symptoms then send their child to daycare or school and that entire time they are spreading the flu through coughing, sneezing and touching things,” she said. “If you are sick, especially if you have fever, you are contagious for 24 hours.”

Roark said even if children have a fever at night, even if they feel better the next day, they should stay home because they are contagious.

“I get that people have to work,” she said. “However, since no one has the immunity, it is just one person spreading it to the next, and to the next, and so on.”

Roark said some ways to keep the spread down is lots of hand washing, not sharing cups and don’t kiss on the lips.

“If people wait 24 hours after a fever to go back to work or send their kids to daycare or school, we would be fine,” she said. “The flu takes 5-7 days to fully recover from.”

Roark said it is important for people to remember to drink lots of fluids and rest to get better as fast as possible.

“Benadryl for snot, Tylenol of aches and fevers help,” she said, “Tamiflu can help, but it only shortens the symptoms up to a day or so. Realistically people don’t need Tamiflu, and people mix up Tamil with Theraflu which is wrong. Theraflu is over the counter and Tamiflu is a prescription.”

Roark said that people with chronic respiratory conditions should be treated with Tamiflu because they can get pneumonia.

“A typically healthy person really just needs rest and hydration, and the majority of the time they will work through it on their own,” she said. “Young children, pregnant women and people with respiratory conditions really should be seen by a doctor. Also, anyone who is feeling short of breath or can’t control their fever, should be seen by their doctor, as well.”

Roark said when the weather starts to warm up, the flu drops off.

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