What's Going Around: The good news & bad news about influenza - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

What's Going Around: The good news & bad news about influenza

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Influenza and flu-like illnesses are still having an impact on people in Wisconsin.

There's good news and bad news when it comes to the illness. Group Health Cooperative Physician Assistant Amy Wagner says influenza reached its peak in Wisconsin, so it's on the decline. But she says there are two types of Influenza A and other types of Influenza B still circulating, so you can actually get the flu more than once in a season.

Remember that influenza comes on suddenly and you'll often have severe symptoms: high fever, body aches, fatigue, headache, sore throat and a dry, painful cough. Wagner says occasionally you can experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, but it's different from the stomach flu. Influenza is a respiratory illness. 

It's very contagious and spread through sneezing, coughing, blowing your nose or touching your face, then touching shared surfaces. Wash your hands a lot to prevent the spread.

Wagner says people who have influenza should stay home for 24 hours after the fever is over.

To treat the symptoms, take ibuprofen and acetaminophen if you're in pain. Wagner says taking deep breaths and coughing can help prevent the development of pneumonia. "Some studies that suggest use of Umck ColdCare (Pelargonium sidoides, a South African medicinal plant) can relieve symptoms and decrease the severity and duration of viral illness," Wagner says. "It also shortens the duration and reduces severity of throat, sinus and bronchial irritations. It also helps loosen mucus, making coughs more productive and naturally relieves congestion, cough, headache, hoarseness and minor aches." Wagner says as soon as you have symptoms, take 30 drops three times a day for up to 10 days.

Wagner says other trials show the use of Sambucol (sambucus nigricans or black elderberry) reduced how long you had symptoms by up to 48-72 hours. But she warns not to take this if you are pregnant. 

The flu can be serious for the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with certain other medical conditions. See a doctor if that applies to you. Start medication within 48 hours, Wagner suggests. 

"Sometimes children or adults may develop other secondary infections such as pneumonia, ear infections or sinusitis. If you become dehydrated or are severely ill, please seek medical care. If your fever lasts more than five days, or if your symptoms improve and are then followed by worsening, this could suggest the onset of pneumonia or other secondary illnesses and you should seek care," Wagner says.

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