Tips on Lessening the Severity of the Flu Virus

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Doctors continue stressing that it's never too late to get a flu shot, but they also say it is meant to protect more than just the person getting the vaccine.

Dr. Dennis Zachary, a family practice physician on Des Moines' south side, says his clinic treats 25 people each day with flu-related symptoms, and that approximately half of them test positive for influenza A.

"You should get the shot to protect others," says Zachary. "A lot of people say, 'I can get over the flu.' Yes, you can, but the person next to you might not be able to. They might die."

Although it's recommended, doctors remind patients the shot isn't guaranteed to prevent the illness. It's still possible to get the flu despite getting the shot, but the virus' symptoms won't be as severe and it won't be contagious for as long. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the shot is about 40% effective this year, but doctors say it is still worth it.

For patients needing to treat their flu symptoms, the number of medicinal options can be overwhelming. Jane Allen, pharmacy manager at the Hy-Vee on Fleur, recommends people looking for medicine ask for help--especially those who are already on prescription medication.

"If you’re coming in and you’re looking for something to help with the symptoms of the flu, stop in and talk to us at the pharmacy. We are more than happy to come out and find what’s best for you," she says.

Allen recommends people take pain relief medicine, cough suppressants, and decongestants, until their symptoms are gone, along with staying hydrated to keep away body aches and lessen other symptoms.