Doctors give tips on preventing, identifying, treating flu

The flu epidemic that's made so many people sick is expected to continue for several more weeks. So, how do you prevent it, identify it and treat it?  

A highly contagious strain of influenza Type A called H3N2 has been causing most of the flu cases and it's associated with more hospitalizations and more deaths than other strains, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

People at high risk for flu complications include people 65 or older; those with a compromised immune system or a chronic health condition such as asthma, heart or lung disease and children under 5.

Doctors recommend they take an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu after they develop flu symptoms.

"The sooner that you fight it, the sooner that it works," Dr. Hilda Roque-Dieguez, of Roque Medical Office, said. "Later on, it lingers and it takes longer to work because the virus is already built up."

For those not at high risk for complications, doctors say getting enough rest and staying hydrated should be enough to fight the flu.

If you have a fever, headache or body aches, they say opt for over-the-counter pain relievers.

If you haven't gotten a flu shot, doctors say it's not too late.

"It can lessen the risk of complications and being hospitalized if you do get the flu," Dr. Orly Avitzur said.

Other ways to protect yourself include using a humidifier to keep the humidity at 30 to 50 percent because the virus survives best in dry air.

"Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth to avoid transferring any virus you might have on your hands," Avitzur said. "Cover your sneeze or cough into your elbow if you don't have a tissue handy."

And, most importantly, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water often.

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