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Three tips to prevent flu complications

The CDC says flu activity is elevated nationally and DHEC reports South Carolina is seeing the same rise in cases.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.

When these germs are passed by coughing and sneezing and then inhaled, they can cause inflammation making it difficult to breathe.

Most people recover from the flu however recent flu deaths show how flu can be serious and even fatal. Children are particularly vulnerable.

According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, 27 children have died from the flu nationally.  This is because children along with older adults and people who suffer chronic health conditions have weak immune systems, making it difficult for their bodies to fight off the flu virus. However, anyone can develop serious flu complications.

Seasonal Flu Prevention

It is the peak of flu season, but it is not too late to get a flu shot. If you haven't received your flu shot yet, now is the time to do so. The CDC says it is the best way to protect yourself from contracting the flu.  The vaccine can also prevent serious flu side affects and even helps with complications caused by flu viruses not covered by this year’s vaccine.

There are other precautions you can take to increase your odds of staying healthy during flu season.

There's always a small chance you could still get sick. In addition to getting the vaccine, Frequent hand-washing can prevent viral infections. If you do have any kind of infection, whether it's influenza or some other upper respiratory infection, experts recommend staying home from work or school.

Flu treatments

Antiviral drugs may also be an option. Tamiflu, Relenza, Xofluza and Rapivad are FDA approved drugs prescribed by your doctor to treat the flu.

The faster you see your doctor the faster you can be treated. Antiviral medication should begin within 48 hours or two days of not feeling well. These medications can ease symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by a few days.

Antiviral treatments can help prevent serious flu complications like pneumonia, but they are not a replacement for the flu vaccine. These drugs are also different from antibiotics which fight against bacterial infections.

If you have taken these steps but continue to have problems breathing, uncontrolled nausea and vomiting or feel confused, get medical attention as soon as possible.

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