Ask Avera: What are the best flu prevention tips?

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With the cold and flu season officially upon us, viewers want to know the best tips to staying healthy this winter.

Dr. Sam Schimelpfenig is one of our Ask Avera experts. He specializes is pediatrics and sports medicine. He says the best way to protect yourself from the flu is getting the flu shot.

“A lot of times we don’t like getting it and I wish I could say it was 100% effective in preventing flu -- so it is possible to still get the flu after the flu shot. But far and away it is the best thing we can do to prevent getting influenza. The other — looking at the hand sanitizer here on the desk — good hand hygiene,” said Dr. Schimelpfenig.

Dr. Schimelpfenig says fever is the biggest symptom of the flu.

“Often times a high fever of 103, 104, a lot of respiratory symptoms, runny nose, coughing, congestion and muscle aches. It tends to come on pretty quick, like one moment you’re feeling fine and then all of a sudden not feeling very fine anymore,” said Dr. Schimelpfenig.

Depending on how sick you feel is when you should see your doctor.

“So if we’re worried about breathing and hydration for young children especially, but the other part would be how long those symptoms last. And we should see things get better within a couple of days but if we’re not getting better like expected, or things seem to be getting worse and worse,” said Dr. Schimelpfenig.

Dr. Schimelpfenig says taking medicine for the flu is not recommended for young children.

“Otherwise they I find are about 50/50 at best. They might take away some of the symptoms, make you feel a little bit better while your body does its work. But at the end of the day, that’s what we need to do — support the body, let the immune system fight this bug off, stay hydrated and get plenty of rest,” said Dr. Schimelpfenig.

If you have a question for one of our Ask Avera experts, e-mail Tess at tess.hedrick@ksfy.com.