Flu’s the Word

This flu season has been a nightmare.  Not only is it early, it’s been aggressive! Working in the pharmacy, I see the butt of flu season.  I guess I’m pretty much writing this post out of frustration more than anything (and the fact that I’ve been battling an illness for over a month and it’s been driving me nuts).  My store is out of the flu shot.  This has angered many of our patients.  “HOW can you be out of the flu shot when people need it?!”

The answer is one of the first complaints I have about this flu season, and also my advice to many people.  It’s been available since August. You should have gotten months ago.  If you wait to get it until someone you know has the flu, it’s too late, you’re already exposed. I don’t quite say that to their faces, but I loosely translate it to “there’s been a very high demand since the shot came out; we’ve done more than we ever have before” then explain that the shot takes at least 2 weeks to start, and if you get it at the height of flu season (which seems to be now) it may be too late.

I work in an area with a lot of diversity and it is becoming harder to explain (even to my old-school mom) that there is no cure for a cold or flu virus.  It is a virus, you can’t get rid of it, and no antibiotic will help you unless you have a strep infection with your illness.  My mom keeps asking me if I have been taking cold medicine (boxes that say “Advil/Tylenol Cold are the bane of my existence when it comes to explaining the following to her). There is nothing you can take that will cure your illness, it’s just symptomatic treatment to help you get through your day until it passes.  When you strip these medicine down, it’s most likely a pain reliever (acetaminophen or ibuprofen), a decongestant (Phenylephrine or pseudo ephedrine), and a cough suppressant (dextromethorphan).

To her question, yes, I have been drinking Nyquil and and Dayquil per the directions for this whole time. 5-7 Days had passed and I was not better, so I went to the doctor.  This is the rule for everyone.  When you ask a pharmacist for any advice, we will recommend a doctor’s visit if you had experience symptoms for more than 7 days.  It does not matter that you hadn’t taken anything for the first 4 days.  You need to see a doctor, you are beyond over the counter help.

If you haven’t gotten sick yet, go ahead and get the flu shot.  Your insurance may cover it at the pharmacy.  If not, the walk-in clinics like Minute Clinic and Target Clinic will be covered.  Wash your hands.  Use hand sanitizer as much as possible!

If you have gotten sick, see the doctor.  The combination mentioned above will help you get through the day until it passes.  If you are diagnosed with the flu, you may get a prescription for Tamiflu.  This will only work in the early days of the illness, so if you think you have the flu, go ahead and see a doctor or clinic immediately! Keep away from others, and also wash your hands a lot, so you don’t get others sick!

For myself, I just refer to my Cold Comforts until it passes:

cold
It sounds really weird, but I also started to rub VapoRub on the bottom of my feet and put on thick socks before I go to bed.  I am convinced it helps with the congestion.  Maybe.

Most importantly, be patient!  Working on the other side of the counter, we understand how miserable you are feeling.  The thing is, we are dealing with 50 other people who are sick as well.  With the new year and new insurance accounts, it is an especially busy time in the pharmacy! My store had an hour-long wait time so far.  Just because you can’t see it being busy, doesn’t mean that a ton of people had just dropped of their prescriptions before you (in person, or requested a refill over the phone, or had their doctor call/fax one in).  There may be a ton of insurance issues that you can’t see us resolving.  Just be patient, and know that we care about getting the medications you need to you, so you can go home and rest!

Please, please, please, TAKE CARE!

***Disclaimer: this is not professional medical advice, but personal opinion and experience.  Please contact your doctor if you have any serious medical conditions****

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