Written on December 21, 2022 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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The flu season in the United States usually occurs in the fall and winter. During the 2021-2022 influenza season, the CDC estimates that influenza was associated with 9 million illnesses, 4 million medical visits, 10,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths . The overall health impact (e.g., infections, hospitalizations, and deaths) of flu varies from season to season.
Most people can treat flu successfully at home, but if you are short of breath, having difficulty breathing, experiencing chest pain, or unable to eat or drink, you should seek medical care immediately.
According to the World Health Organization, all age groups can be affected, but some groups are more at risk than others :
The CDC offers the following guidance :
The Mayo Clinic echoes CDC guidance and offers this additional tip for self-care from the flu :
An interview with Dr. Tuhin Roy, clinical assistant professor of family medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, for TuftsNow, an online resource that educates people about various diseases and conditions and how to prevent and treat them, had this additional information to share :
Use steam for stuffiness. For heavy congestion, steam showers or holding your head over a hot pot of water can open nasal passages. Saline sprays, saline irrigation, and other OTC nasal decongestants also can reduce symptoms.
Get a flu shot. The best way to prevent the need for any of this is to get a flu shot, Roy says, and there are very few reasons not to get one. They’re effective and safe, but because the flu virus changes, people should get an influenza vaccination every year. He recommends them for children starting at six months old.
The flu shot helps prevent severe symptoms, like ending up in the hospital, which can happen more often in kids and immunocompromised people. So, it might be true that you'll still get the flu, but it'll be less intense than what it would be without the vaccine.
Watch for symptoms in children. Children often stop eating or drinking much sooner than adults when they feel ill. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce fevers, which in turn can help make kids feel like drinking fluids again.
Kids often will not want milk or milk-type products, like formula, so just use water or a 50/50 mix of apple juice and water, which contains some electrolytes and nutrients .
If you're interested in flu treatment at home, consider Everlywell's online flu treatment option. You can book a same-day video appointment with a clinician who can give you a diagnosis and prescribe medication, where applicable (with prescriptions sent directly to your pharmacy).
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