Cold and Flu

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    A Family Medicine, answered on behalf of
    Flu season in the United States typically starts in October and can last through May. It usually peaks in the colder winter months of December through February. However, the viruses that cause the flu are hard to predict. We don’t always know what time of year the flu virus will become widespread, or if there’s a particular area where more people will become sick from the flu. 
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    A Emergency Medicine, answered on behalf of
    When Do I Need an Antibiotic If I Have a Cold?
    If you have a cold caused by a virus, you won't need an antibiotic. In this video, Natalie Shum, MD, an emergency medicine doctor at West Hills Hospital, describes how taking too many antibiotics can be dangerous for your health.
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    A Emergency Medicine, answered on behalf of
    If you are experiencing flu symptoms, you should go to the emergency room (ER) if you're having any sort of trouble breathing or if you're vomiting to the point that you're unable to keep anything down; you could become dehydrated. Running a fever and feeling body aches is a normal part of the flu. It's okay to treat those symptoms with acetaminophen or ibuprofren at home. Anyone in high risk categories should come to the ER within the first 48 hours so that they can be treated appropriately. High risk categories include people with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD; infants under age one; elderly people over the age of 65; pregnant women; and people who are immune compromised -- that is, on chemotherapy or chronic steroid therapy.
     
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    What Does the Color of My Phlegm Mean?
    The color of your phlegm can indicate the state of your health. In this video, Christa McQuate, MD, a family practice doctor at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals, describes what clear, yellow, brown or red phlegm might mean.
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    The flu is as an upper respiratory disease or infection that is caused by different strains of the influenza virus. Every year 15-40% of people in the U.S. develop the flu. Annually there are about 36,000 deaths and 114,000 hospitalizations due to the flu or complications linked to the flu.
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    Dr. Sampson Davis - Why should I avoid touching my face if I want to prevent colds and flu?
    You should avoid touching your face if you want to avoid cold and flu because the most common way germs get into the body is via the face. In this video, emergency medicine expert Sampson Davis, MD, explains why this simple tip is so essential.
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    A Internal Medicine, answered on behalf of
    Even if you are otherwise healthy, the flu can lead to hospitalization or death, so it's important to get a flu vaccination. Consider that 5% to 20% of the U.S. population catches the flu.

    Everyone over the age of six months should get a flu vaccine. Doing so protects you and those around you. You don’t want to bring the flu into the house and expose those who are at greatest risk to the virus.
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    Flu may be a threat to your health during flu season, and it is a particular concern for pregnant women who may be at risk for more serious complications from the flu. To help reduce your chances of infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these steps:
    • Flu vaccines for all pregnant women in any trimester of pregnancy. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists along with seven other leading national maternal and infant health organizations say that getting your flu shot is an essential part of prenatal care. If flu vaccines are not offered by your obstetrics practice, they are widely available from multiple sources, such as drugstores and workplaces. Protecting yourself against the flu by getting the flu vaccine while you're pregnant provides protection for your unborn baby as well.
    • Wash your hands well and often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
    • Avoid close contact with people who could be sick with the flu.
    • Ask your healthcare professional about any other specific steps you should take while pregnant.
    In addition, continue all the things you're already doing to ensure a healthy pregnancy -- eating right, exercising moderately, sleeping adequately and managing stress. All will help strengthen your immune system so that it's better prepared to fight off any viruses that do come calling.
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    If you are pregnant, you should call your healthcare provider immediately if you have flu symptoms to determine if you need to be seen. Don't guess about what's causing your symptoms. Ask your healthcare professional for guidance.

    Report any of the following symptoms right away: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in your chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, decreased or no movement of your baby or a high fever that doesn't respond to medication recommended by your healthcare professional.
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    It's not unusual for the flu to lead to pneumonia. These cases of pneumonia result when bacteria, viruses and other organisms invade the lungs and cause them to become inflamed. The body's defense mechanisms ordinarily prevent these bacteria from reaching the lungs, but when the defenses are weakened by the flu, severe pneumonia may develop. Bacterial pneumonia symptoms will appear after you start feeling like you're recovering from the flu. A brief period of improvement is followed by the sudden onset of:
    • High fever
    • Shaking chills
    • Chest pain with each breath
    • A continuous hacking cough that produces thick, yellow-greenish-colored phlegm, or sputum; or sputum with blood in it
    • Extreme weakness and fatigue
    You should always check with your healthcare professional right away if you have these symptoms.