Providence ER doctor Steve McGraw on treating the flu - FOX 35 News Orlando

Providence ER doctor Steve McGraw on treating the flu

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By Deena Centofanti
Fox 2 News

DETROIT (WJBK) -- Around metro Detroit, hospital emergency rooms are swamped with people suffering from flu-related symptoms.  I asked Providence Hospital ER doctor Steve McGraw about treating the flu.

Q: In general, what should you do if you're fighting the flu?

A: The things our mothers told us, right?  Make sure you take Tylenol for your fever.  Take it to prescribed dose.  Increase your fluids.  Make sure you're getting enough rest, sleeping well enough, and staying away from other people that aren't sick.  Make sure they wash their hands and so do you. 

Q: Who should seek medical attention for the flu?

A: The people that should seek medical help are those that are the most vulnerable -- the very, very young under the age of two, pregnant females, the very elderly, people that are sort of at the extremes of age -- and those with other significant comorbidities or other illnesses -- people with transplants, chemotherapy, those that have severe lung disease or heart disease, especially if they notice they can't tolerate liquids, can't breathe, can't get up, can't walk independently and they otherwise used to be able to -- those are the ones that we should probably see.

Q: Do antibiotics do anything to fight the flu?

A: They really don't.  People with the flu have a viral infection, and antibiotics really aren't designed to take care of viruses.  There are antivirals, the most common which is Tamaflu, but the only way that's really effective is if it's started right after the beginning of the illness within the first day or so and then it has to be taken twice a day.  The best studies show that it shortens your course of illness not immediately, but rather by a day or two over the course of a four to eight day illness.  So you're really going to save a day or two on the other end.

Even though the flu seems to be aggressive this season, Dr. McGraw says don't panic.

"We see the flu every year.  It's a little earlier this year and there are some suggestions that the vaccine this year may not have been as effective as we would've hoped, but it's still effective.  And if people haven't had the flu vaccine yet, I would still reassure them there's still plenty of time to get it.  There's plenty of vaccine out there.  We're going to have at least eight weeks of this, so until the Tigers break training camp.  If you haven't gotten a shot, you should probably get one."

In general, the CDC recommends that anyone six months of age or older get a flu shot.  It takes about two weeks for your body to make those antibodies to fight off the flu, so it's not too late.  In fact, the sooner the better.

Click on the videos in the player above for more of Deena Centofanti's interview with Dr. McGraw.

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