Integrity Urgent Care Physician gives tips to stay healthy during flu season

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press 

Dr. Eddy Dark of Integrity Urgent Care talked about what he calls an “interesting” flu season for 2017-2018, with the flu season having begun on October 1.
“If you look at the CDC website, they’re saying the flu shot itself is only about 10 percent effective this year. So that’s a bad deal. But basically, we still encourage people to get their flu shot,” Dark said. 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu shot for those six months and older. Dark gave tips to avoid the flu, especially at the height of flu season. One of those things is to avoid those who have the virus, and if a family member does have the flu, to use a common sense approach.
“The big things are the things we’re all aware of, but most people just don’t do. When you have somebody in your family that  you think might have the flu, get them isolated from the rest of the family,” Dark said.  “If you can, get them at one end of the house, Lysol their room over and over again. Feed them in their room, and also keep them away from the public. They shouldn’t be in school, shouldn’t go to work.”
Dark also suggested self-care as an approach to staying healthy during the holiday season. 
“This is the time of year that everyone wants to go, go, go – they’re hustling and busting doing Christmas shopping, getting everything done, but they’re also not getting much sleep, not getting much rest. They’re not getting their relaxation time, and that all runs on your immune system,” Dark said. “Flu hits us for many different reasons, but I’m a believer that one of the reasons is we run ourselves too hard. 
“No one takes a break. We should be resting and enjoying our family like God wants us, instead of running the rat race.” 
He suggested eating healthy, getting enough sleep as two more preventatives, along with handwashing. 
In the event someone does fall ill, Dark said they can easily be seen at Integrity Urgent Care in the Five Hills Shopping Center. 
“We are a walk-in clinic and flu is a big part of what we do. We can see anybody, any day. We’re open seven days a week, 12 hours a week to accommodate.”
Still, with the treatments available, Dark calls the flu a “frustrating” disease, both in its diagnosis and treatment. 
“Flu is a frustrating illness because the rapid flu test that is available right now only has about 60 percent accuracy. No matter where someone goes to get a flu test, they should realize that even if that test is negative, they still could have the flu.
“A lot of times doctors just treat the patients and that’s the appropriate thing to do. If they are within 48 hours of their symptoms starting, which is the time you have to take the Tamiflu, a lot of astute physicians, in my mind, are treating them, – go ahead and start the medicine.” 
However, the medication used to treat the flu is not a “cure” and won’t make someone’s symptoms go away, Dark added. 
“(Tamiflu) works at preventing replication of the virus. What that means is, what you have and the symptoms you have, those aren’t going to go away with Tamiflu. It’s not going to get better right away. 
“What it does is prevent it from getting a lot worse. We’re just slowing down the process. Tamiflu doesn’t make you feel better while you’re taking it. It doesn’t prevent any complications. It just shortens the time you would have been sick. That’s the goal of Tamiflu, you’re taking what could be a seven-day illness – and that could ruin your Christmas break – you can knock it down to a three-day illness or a two-day illness.” 
According to information at the CDC, the flu usually comes on suddenly, and people with the flu experience some or all of the following symptoms: Fever or feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headache, fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults, and not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Dark said the sooner someone is seen and starts taking medicine for the flu, the better the medication will work for them.
In Coryell and Lampasas Counties, type A influenza has been confirmed by either culture or PCR. In Bell County, both type A and B influenza has been confirmed, also by culture or PCR. 

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