The flu season is in full swing starting mostly in the second week of January when emergency rooms are more busy than usual with patient with flu like symptoms. Dr. James Kojian, E.R. expert and founder of DRTOHELP.COM, warns the public about five things your doctor may be doing wrong when treating for the flu.
1. Wrong use of antibiotics: "The vast majority of the illnesses during January are viral," explains Dr. Kojian. "Thus antibiotics will not help even a little for a viral infection. However most doctors are compelled to give patients something so they don't complain. Mothers with sick kids are used to getting the pink antibiotic to treat their child's viral syndrome or adults are used to getting a z pack for their cough and cold. The Centers for Disease Control (C.D.C.) prohibits this common practice for many reasons. Antibiotics are overused tremendously in this country lending to a severe antibiotics resistance problem, plus they may contribute to the growth of fungal infections in some patients. They are not indicated at all for viral infections."
2. Incorrect use of anti-virals: "Doctors are ordering tests to check for Influenza A and B for patients who are not at high risk and are treating these non-high-risk patients with Tamiflu or other anti-virals, which is wrong," he says. "The Center for Disease Control also prohibits this practice as well, as they list the indications for anti-viral medication for doctors to follow on their web site. Antiviral treatment is recommended for any patient with confirmed or suspected influenza who is hospitalized; has severe, complicated, or progressive illness; or is at higher risk for influenza complications. Many doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners are not aware of the C.D.C'.s rules and over-prescribe anti-virals or antibiotics. Unnecessarily taking these medications a couple of times a year might weaken one's immune system, making them more vulnerable to common infections over time."
3. Not treating fever correctly. "Doctors most often do not treat the symptoms aggressively enough," he says. "Many times doctors give adult patients 650mg of Tylenol for their fever or body aches, when the correct adult dosage is 1000 mg every four hours. Similarly the proper prescription dose of Ibuprofen or Motrin and Advil for patients battling the flu is 600-800 mg every 6-8 hours not 400 mg. I have found that 2 500 mg Extra-Strength Tylenol tablets will vastly improve how someone feels within 30 minutes."
4. Not treating a cough properly. "I tell patients that when they are sick it is normal to have a cough, fever, and body aches and I treat the symptoms aggressively," he explains. "Prescription cough medication such as Phenegran D.M. and Phenegran with codeine at night to help one sleep with the proper dose of Tylenol and Advil will dramatically lessen one's symptoms. Over-the-counter cough medications are not as effective as prescription medication. Inhalers can be used if one is wheezing as well."
5. Not knowing when to be aggressive: "Children under two years of age, seniors, and patients with other medical problems need to be tested for Influenza A and B, and sometimes respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)--a virus that can infect the lungs, breathing passages, mouth-- and need to be treated EARLY for the anti-viral medications to work, so that their illness does not progress and become severe," he warns. "These high-risk patients need to be instructed by their doctors to come in early to be treated, whereas the low risk patients need to be instructed to let their immune symptoms get stronger by eradicating the infection without using medication. Many times, the opposite happens, and the result is that the general population overwhelms the system to a high enough degree that resources for those who need medical help the most become strained."