Flu season has officially arrived in Maryland. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every state has reported flu activity and some states have indicated widespread activity. In Maryland, the Centra Care Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care centers have also treated many patients with flu over the past few weeks.

Peak season for influenza, or “flu” typically begins in December and runs through March. If you have not received a flu shot yet, it is not too late. “If the flu virus is circulating, there is still time to get a flu shot. It is still the best way to prevent the flu,” states Richard Samuel, MD, an urgent care physician with Centra Care Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care. Dr. Samuel says the sooner you get the flu shot, the better because it takes about two weeks for your immunity to build. The flu vaccine is still available at urgent care centers, physician offices and other clinics.

Remember, the flu is not just a bad cold. Flu symptoms start quickly and are more severe. Symptoms of the flu are fever, body aches, fatigue and chills. People in high-risk groups- young children, the elderly and pregnant women are at higher risk of developing complications like pneumonia and dehydration. Everyone should watch for serious complications.

Call your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Pain in your chest or stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Persistent high fever over 102 degrees

In addition to the flu shot, there are other important ways to keep yourself and your family healthy during flu season:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Wash hands at least four or five times per day, for at least 20 seconds each time using warm water and soap.
  • Sanitize work and household surfaces such as desks, cell phones and door handles, where the flu virus can be found.
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you think you have the flu:
    • Stay home and rest.
    • Drink plenty of liquids.
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
    • There are over-the-counter and prescription medications you can take to help ease the symptoms. Ask your doctor what is right for you.

If you think you have the flu or other minor illnesses and injuries, Centra Care Adventist HealthCare Urgent Care is open daily for walk-ins or online reservations.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention