NEWBERRY — It can hit you like a million bricks. You can be going about your day feeling fine, maybe at work, taking a walk, or caring for your kids at home.
Before you know it, you are finding it hard to put one foot in front of the other. Your body aches, your fever spikes, and your throat feels like sandpaper. Is it an everyday common cold, or is it something worse?
Flu season officially began in the first weeks of October and people are asking themselves this question all too often.
Kay Traylor, the Clinical Director Med Surge in the Newberry County Memorial Hospital Intensive Care Unit, said having knowledge of the difference between a common cold and the flu, and taking precautionary measures, will be beneficial to everyone during this year’s “season of the sniffles.”
“My main advice to all patients is hand washing,” Traylor said. “Also, when sneezing and coughing, doing it into your shoulder or arm as opposed to covering your mouth with your hand will cut down on the level of germs being passed around on your hands.”
Traylor said other precautionary measures include getting plenty of sleep, exercise, and fluids to help your body stay strong enough to fight off infections. There are also many over-the-counter medications that can be taken in case a cold finds you this season.
Al Jones, pharmacist for Long’s Pharmacy in Newberry, said he recommends expectorants and non-drowsy antihistamines like Mucinex and Loratidine to his patients, along with Tylenol and ibuprofen for sinus pains.
Many times mistaken for a cold, the flu is also in full swing this season. With symptoms including a fever usually over 100 degrees, headaches, weakness, and chest pains, getting the flu shot is a precautionary option between now and March to protect yourself. Traylor said local pharmacies like CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart, and Long’s Drugs will offer the shot this season.
Traylor said that because the flu spreads so quickly, being cautious of germs in your household and around your children is important this time of year.
“Watch what your children are putting around their face, and if someone in your home is diagnosed with the flu, Tamiflu may be given to all members of the home as a preventative,” said Jones. “There is no way to have 100 percent immunization to the flu, but getting a flu shot and being extra cautious of germs is a good way to protect your children and family.”
Katie Inman is a junior at Newberry College, from Newberry, SC. She is studying the field of Communications.