Dr. Diana Koelliker, Medical Director of Emergency Services & Telluride EMS Director


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Dr. Diane Koelliker

Dr. Diana Koelliker

Dr. Diana Koelliker answers this week’s question:

What can I do to avoid the flu?

Flu season has arrived and while we have only seen a few cases of influenza in Colorado this month, there are certainly more to be expected.

So, what can you do?

First of all, if you haven’t gotten a flu shot yet this year, it’s not too late.  While not 100% effective, a flu vaccine is the first and best way to prevent influenza.  Everyone over the age of 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine.  This is especially true for the people most at risk of complications from the flu:  children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and any person with heart disease, diabetes, a weakened immune system or asthma/COPD.

Secondly, take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.  This means covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, washing your hands frequently, and avoiding touching your mouth, eyes or nose (germs spread this way).  If you are sick with a flu-like illness, you should stay home until you are afebrile (without a fever) for greater than 24 hours without taking any anti-pyretics (like acetaminophen or ibuprofen).  You should consider yourself contagious until you are no longer running a fever (and not taking any medicine to prevent/treat fever).  While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

Lastly, if you do get the flu, antiviral drugs can help to treat your illness.  Since the flu is caused by a virus, antibiotics do not work to treat the flu.

The mainstay of therapy for the flu is rest, drinking lots of fluids, and acetaminophen or ibuprofen to treat fever or body aches.  If taken in the first 48 hrs, antiviral medications (a prescription medication) have been shown to shorten the course and lessen the severity of symptoms.  These medications are especially important to those patients that are at most risk of complications from the flu (see above).

Call your doctor at the first sign of illness to discuss if these medications would be appropriate for you.  Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue.

Editor’s note: The Telluride Medical Center is the only 24-hour emergency facility within 65 miles. You can choose your own medical provider visit with a specialist or take advantage of their Mountain Skin Care services. As a mountain town in a challenging, remote environment, a thriving medical center is vital to our community’s health. For more Medical Moments on TIO, Click Here.


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