Let’s Talk About Influenza: What You Need to Know About This Year’s Flu Season

November 2, 2021 0 Comments

I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to write about Influenza symptoms and treatments.  All opinions are my own.  

Flu season is upon us and I’m more concerned about the flu than ever. With a new baby and a child in school, I worry about not only contracting the flu, but also spreading it throughout our house. I also think about my parents who we see regularly. They are over 65 and in a higher risk group for complications from the flu.

I have partnered with Med-IQ to learn more about the flu and to help us all stay as healthy as possible this flu season! Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Brittani James about the flu and what to look out for as we head toward the winter months. Dr. James is the Medical Director of the IMAN Community Health Center and Co-Founder of the Institute for Antiracism in Medicine. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.

Last year, due to the pandemic, there were few cases of the flu. A typical flu season records about 38 million cases of the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. James believes we are looking at a rough flu season this year especially because hospital systems are already strained from the pandemic. Due to nursing shortages and a shortage of ICU beds, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself from the flu!

Symptoms of the Flu versus Covid

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches/chills
  • Headache
  • Malaise – generally feeling under the weather, tired, and sluggish

One of the biggest differences between the flu and covid is that sometimes with covid there is a loss of taste and smell. However, there are more similarities in symptoms between the two than not. Due to the similarities in symptoms, be prepared to test for both the flu and covid when you see your healthcare provider.

Know Your Household’s Risk Profile

As I mentioned above, our household is high risk with a newborn who cannot yet get vaccinated. We are also in close contact with my parents who are seniors. Here is a list of groups who are at high risk for complications of the flu:

  • Young kids (under age 5 and especially those under 2)
  • The elderly (65 years+)
  • Pregnant women and those two weeks postpartum
  • Individuals with chronic disease

Common Myths of the Flu

“It’s no worse than having a cold.” – FALSE

“It’s gone because of the pandemic.” – FALSE

“Healthy people don’t die or have complications from the flu.” – FALSE

Antiviral Medications for the Flu

If you have flu-like symptoms, please call your doctor right away. You should get tested as soon as possible. For antiviral treatments to be most effective, it is important to start them within 48 hours of the start of your symptoms.

Antiviral treatments are safe for all ages even for pregnant and breastfeeding moms. If one person in the household tests positive for the flu, it is important that everyone in the house be considered for antiviral treatment.

Antiviral options include:

  • Two oral medications
  • Inhaled medication
  • Injectable medication

The newest oral medication is one single dose and just as effective as the older medications but has had fewer reported side effects. However, this medication is only currently approved for ages 12 and older. For 11 and under and for those pregnant and breastfeeding, the older oral medication is recommended.

Please check with your healthcare provider for the option that is best for you and the members in your household. Consider dosing, treatment length, potential side effects, and certain contraindications.


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