You might have already heard the news. If not, multiple outlets have reported this year’s flu season is off to its earliest start in about 15 years.
Does that mean it will be particularly bad, perhaps like the Flumageddon of 2018? We’re not so sure yet.
But each flu season is somewhat unique, so we asked our providers what symptoms they’re seeing early in this season. After all, they’re the first among us to be asked the dreaded, but expected, question – “Is it flu?”
2019 and 2020 Flu Symptoms
“Interestingly, we’ve seen a lot more Flu B very early this year,” said Jenny, one of our providers. And it’s true, at a national level. Some people nickname Flu B “the good flu” because it tends to be milder in symptoms and duration compared to the more common Flu A strains. But that’s no guarantee, and each year is different.
Many reported cases of Flu B tend to have a higher association with gastrointestinal symptoms. “I’ve seen more nausea and vomiting with the early onset of flu this year,” said Liz, another Remedy provider. “And the typical – ‘I was fine 12 hours hours ago – now I feel like I got hit by a truck’ description.”
Flu B also tends to affect children and younger adults more significantly than the Flu A strains. Fun fact – only seals and humans can be infected with Flu B, so pour one out for the docks at San Francisco when you think of them; some of those barks might just be coughs.
Early Possible Signs of Flu
So, you’re feeling under the weather, and starting to wonder – “Is it flu?” We asked another provider, Niki, what to look for:
“Fever is a big indicator that it may be more than a cold,” she said.
The most common symptoms – fever, chills, body aches and fatigue are typically present with the dominant flu strains, but can vary in intensity and duration. She suggests paying attention to how quickly the fever develops and how high it goes, as flu often spikes fevers above 102 degrees.
Most providers, Remedy included, can offer rapid flu tests to make a determination of both the presence and type of flu, with a prescription for Tamiflu being the most common treatment in addition to rest and proper fluid intake.
“You must start Tamiflu® within 48-72 hrs of the fever for it to be effective,” Niki added. “Not all flu tests positive. If there is still a high suspicion for flu, but a negative test, you can still treat presumptively with an antiviral like Tamiflu®. That’s what I’d tell my neighbor.”
“Also, it’s normal for flu symptoms to last 5-7 days unlike a cold for 2-3 days, so not usually a reason to worry.”
How To Treat and Avoid Flu
Another tip – get your flu shot, and wash your hands. The annual vaccine and basic hygiene are the best real defenses we have.
And if you’re starting to feel it? Call Remedy. We can have a provider chatting with you via video in minutes, typically, and can send someone to your home or office for rapid flu testing. Why risk a waiting room if you don’t need to?
Hint – you don’t.
Stay well out there! – Team Remedy