By Patch editor Michael Woyton
Are you coughing and sneezing? If not, you probably know someone who is?
Well, it's probably not the flu, unless the symptoms also include severe body aches, headache and fever usually over 102 in adults.
Dr. Richard R. Pisano, who practices internal medicine in New Rochelle, said he is seeing lots of people coming to his office with an upper respiratory infection that has likely been made worse by the fluctuating temperatures.
"The symptoms of cough, congestion and low-grade fever are not necessarily influenza," he said.
"Even if you got the flu shot, you can get these symptoms from other viruses and other bacteria that can cause the same syndrome," Pisano said.
"If you already received a flu shot, that's great," he said. "It means that you are more or less protected from the flu. This (upper respiratory infection) is some other infection not related to the flu."
What is going around, he said, can be made worse if there are underlying problems, such as asthma, and the cold weather doesn't help at all.
"People are more susceptible to these type of infections during this time of year," Pisano said, "especially with the rapid, dramatic changes in temperatures" that recently saw 2 degrees one day for a high and 55 the next.
People with the upper respiratory infection should see a physician, he said. One of his patients left the office armed with prescriptions for antibiotics to quell any infection, an expectorant to help clear the lungs and a rescue inhaler because the patient's asthma was being affected by the illness.
The Centers for Disease Control are reporting that flu activity continues to be high throughout the country, with 35 states reporting widespread flu activity and 20 states reporting high levels of influenza-like illness.
There is still time to get vaccinated for influenza, Pisano said.
"However, you shouldn't get a flu shot while you are sick," he said. "You should resolve your symptoms and then get the flu shot three to five days after you are better."