Q&A: Preventing and treating the flu

Family Nurse Practitioner Robin Matteo, based at Verde Valley Medical Clinic – Camp Verde, has been helping patients fight the flu for years. Here she answers common questions about why and how to fight it.

Q: What, actually, is the flu?

A: The flu is not just another word for “a cold.” It is a serious contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and can be fatal to infants, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Q: What are the telltale flu symptoms?

A: Fever, cough, headache, sore throat, body aches, chills and extreme fatigue that can keep you down for days or even weeks.

Q: How is the flu transmitted from person to person?

A: When people infected with flu cough, sneeze or talk, droplets from their mouths or noses can land in other people’s mouths and noses – a very efficient way to spread flu. In addition, the flu virus can live, for a period of time, on objects such as doorknobs, handles, desks and telephones. If you touch an infected object, then touch your own mouth or nose, you stand a good chance of becoming sick.

Q: It sounds like the flu is unavoidable! How can I escape it?

A: Be sure to wash your hands often with soap and hot water, avoid touching your face and keep up positive health habits in terms of nutrition, hydration and sleep. Managing your stress level and avoiding people who are already sick will stack the flu deck in your favor as well. Also, get a flu shot as soon as possible.

Q: Do I really need to get a flu shot?

A: The flu shot is an important weapon in defending yourself against the flu. You can get a flu shot into the spring, but the earlier you get one, the better.

Q: How does the flu shot work?

A: The flu shot protects against the three or four influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. It works by introducing an inactivated, non-infectious flu virus into the body, which helps the body’s immunity when the real virus comes along. You cannot catch the flu from the flu shot.

Q: OK, I’m convinced. Where can I get my flu shot?

A: If you are an established patient, please call a Verde Valley Medical Clinic location to schedule a shot during flu season:

  • Cottonwood: 928-634-5551
  • Camp Verde: 928-639-5555
  • Sedona: 928-204-4944
  • Village of Oak Creek: 928-204-4999