How to protect yourself as flu cases rise in the Tennessee Valley

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - According to the Alabama Health Department, Alabama is one of the top four states nationwide leading the flu epidemic. The majority of the cases are north of Birmingham, right here in the Tennessee Valley.

"You may wake up one morning and feel great. At noon you feel like a truck has hit you," Cynthia Whitten said.

Whitten is a nurse practitioner at Huntsville Hospital's walk in clinic on Airport Road. She said symptoms of the flu can be sudden.

"We are seeing more of it between December and March. Generally in March we start to see it decline," Whitten said.

But the flu isn't the only bug going around.

"We are seeing a lot of people who are not testing positive for the flu in this clinic but they are having flu-like symptoms," Whitten said.

She said many patients are coming in with a fever, headache, nausea, cough, and a runny nose.

"We treat them very much the same way. We give them the anti-viral drugs. We give them something for their cough. We give them something to stop the runny nose. And if they need it we give them something for nausea," she said.

There's a number of things you can do to protect yourself and others from the flu and other viruses.

"The biggest thing to prevent the flu obviously is good hand washing, covering your mouth when you cough. Stay home when you don't feel well," Whitten said.

Another preventive measure to take is getting the flu shot.

"The majority of people that we have seen with the flu or flu-like symptoms did not receive the flu vaccine this year," Whitten said.
Whitten said it does prevent the flu and that there is scientific evidence to back it up.

But won't you come down with the flu if you get the shot?

"Actually a lot people feel that way, but it's actually a myth. The people who get the flu vaccine may feel like they have the flu," Whitten said.

If you receive the immunization and start to feel those symptoms, it shouldn't last long.

"We usually advise people to take Tylenol after receiving the vaccine just because you can feel a little achy," Whitten said.

Whitten claimed that it is best to receive treatment in the first forty-eight hours of a sickness.

She recommended not sending you kids to school if they have flu-like symptoms. She also encouraged you not to go to work if you are sick, as it can spread quickly.