Cold and Flu For Young People

Aug 3, 2023

If you haven’t thought much about the flu in the past two years, you’re not alone. All of our masking and social distancing, and the near total absence of large indoor gatherings, kept flu infections to a minimum.

Now, happily, we are returning to much of our pre-pandemic life. As winter draws near, this may lead to a spike in flu cases.

Why do healthy young people need to think about the flu?

We hear it from teens and young adults all the time: they just aren’t scared of the flu. And that’s OK– healthy young people rarely get hospitalized or die from the flu. But just getting sick with the flu can lead to missed days of school and post-viral fatigue, making life stressful for a student who’s used to feeling active and unstoppable.

And even though it’s rare, healthy children, teens, and young adults are hospitalized from the flu every year. One more reason we spend so much of the fall and winter talking about flu prevention.

-Dr. Nancy Dodson, Thread Health MD

What’s the best way to prevent the flu? Flu before Boo

When it comes to preventing serious influenza illness, nothing beats the flu shot. You might be sick of all the vaccine talk of the last two years– but please, get your flu shot! We recommend “Flu before Boo”-- get your flu shot before Halloween.

The influenza virus changes a little bit each year, and so the flu shot is re-designed annually to combat the specific strains of flu that are likely to cause illness that winter. We never know if one year is going to bring a particularly dangerous strain of flu (now’s the time to google the 1918 flu pandemic if you’re interested to learn more).

Good hand-washing also helps to prevent flu infection. But truly– we can’t say enough about the flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine can be given the same day as the Covid vaccine or any other shots you are due for.

Do I have the flu? Or Covid? Or Both?

It’s hard to tell the flu and Covid apart, without a diagnostic test. Classically, the flu hits like a “ton of bricks.” If you can name the moment you got sick (“I was walking to the subway” or “I was halfway through class”) then you likely have the flu. If you have severe body aches and chills, you likely have the flu. But there is a lot of overlap– and only a test can tell you for sure.

Do I need to talk to Thread Health or go to the doctor if I think I have the flu?

Healthy young people can generally weather the illness at home, with ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever and muscle aches, rest, and tons of hydration with electrolyte-containing fluids such as Gatorade or chicken broth.

Thread Health is here to help you through flu season. If you want to talk about the flu vaccine, we’re here to chat and provide scientifically sound advice. If you think you have the flu, we can talk through your symptoms and help you take care of yourself at home.

<a href="">Image by 8photo</a> on Freepik