Knoxville physicians, pharmacists share advice on avoiding flu during holidays

Local News

Flu season has begun and the Christmas holiday is still ahead. The traveling and get-togethers are opportunities for the flu virus to spread. 

When it comes to the flu, Elven Banks doesn’t take chances. He got his flu shot in October so it would be set by Christmas.”

We’re going down to my wife’s mother’s house. We haven’t spent a Christmas with her in decades and this year she turned 89,” said Banks.

Flu activity generally peaks between December and February.

“We’re not seeing a lot of it. We’re seeing some of it,” said Dena Mashburn, director of nursing for KCHD.

Mashburn says now is a good time to take precautions before family visits. The best safeguard is washing your hands.

“If you’re not feeling well maybe you don’t need to go to the event his year with your family. The other thing is, if you’re not sure how you’re feeling, maybe you shouldn’t be the one preparing the food,” she said.

Mashburn says it’s not too late to get a flu shot. While it may take two weeks for it to take full effect, you’ll still receive some of the benefits.

“When you don’t carry those germs, you’re not sharing those germs,” said Mashburn.

At Belew Drug, Pharmacist Brandon Lock says there are options in blocking a cold or flu. 

“You can take zinc lozenges because zinc is effective in knocking out cold and flu, bacterial or viral symptoms. Also, silver spray is pretty helpful. You can spray silver, colloidal silver, on the back of your throat. Silver is a really strong anti-microbial product,” said Lock.

If you’re not feeling well, it’s suggested you visit your general physician or a local urgent care before going to an ER, that way emergency rooms are not overwhelmed.

Lock says there are prescription products, like Tamiflu, that’ll help manage the virus. 

“Just make sure you don’t touch your eyes, touch your face, touch your nose during the normal course of a day because that’s how you spread germs,” he said.

For Banks, it’s about being careful before visiting loved ones.

“I think the flu shot is not just for me, but it’s to protect other people around me, my mother in law I’m going to see.”

Flu season varies in timing and severity year to year. Here are some warning signs from the Knox County Health Department on when to go to the emergency room:

  • Kids: fast or troubled breathing, bluish skin color, and not waking up or interacting
  • Adults: pain or pressure in your chest or abdomen, difficulty or shortness of breath, and severe or persistent vomiting
  • Infants: rush them immediately to an ER if they’re having trouble breathing, significantly fewer wet diapers than normal, and there are no tears when crying

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