Those who have ever had the flu will tell you one thing: never again, if they can help it. Flu season has arrived, and while it’s still early, the time to get vaccinated is now, because the flu can be more than miserable. It can be deadly.
Dr. Sunil Patel, M.D., an internal medicine physician with Porter Physician Group, spoke about flu to a packed audience of individuals age “50 or better” at Porter Regional Hospital’s monthly HealthPorte breakfast on Tuesday.
Influenza, or the flu as we commonly call it, can be a serious illness, especially for those with lower immune systems or who have other health issues. Flu can hit seniors hard, so it’s important for them to take steps to prevent it and treat it quickly.
“Events like these are good for general education, to help make the public more aware, and hopefully get some of the myths and misunderstandings cleared,” Patel said. “First and foremost, I enjoy being able to share my knowledge and expertise with the public, who can then potentially help themselves and/or their family or friends in taking better care of themselves.”
During Tuesday’s discussion, Patel spoke about the various strains of flu, typical symptoms, complications, and treatments in great depth. The best ways to prevent the spread of flu? Receive an annual flu vaccine, wash your hands frequently, stay away from those who are sick, and refrain from visiting others if you are sick yourself.
Influenza is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Symptoms include fever over 100 degrees and cough, often combined with running nose and nasal congestion, body aches, and fatigue. Some people even experience stomach symptoms, but the common references to “stomach flu” are not related to actual influenza.
Patel said that visiting your doctor or the nearest urgent care facility within 48 hours of suspecting the flu can be beneficial, as an antiviral medication called Tamiflu can be provided at that time to reduce the length and severity of the illness. There is no cure for influenza.
“Rest and fluids are the best treatment for individuals who are healthy otherwise, but those with weakened immune systems should go to their doctor or urgent care right away, as they are more susceptible to further complications,” Patel said.
Porter Regional Hospital has been offering the HealthPorte program for seniors for about 10 years. This free organization provides health and wellness education and networking opportunities.
“This is a vibrant group of seniors. HealthPorte is really a great way to keep our community abreast of things they need to know in order to stay well, healthy, and active,” said Kelly Credit, Regional Director of Marketing and Communications for Porter Health Care System.
The monthly breakfast meetups serve to build community and educate the public.
“We want people to be healthy in their retirement, so we want to provide them with the resources and education, and to know that we’re here for them, even when they’re well,” said Jennifer Spitz, Regional Community Relations Coordinator for Porter Health Care System. “We want to help keep them well.”
Mary Lynch has been coming to HealthPorte events for more than five years.
“It’s always interesting and it’s always a different topic. Even if you don’t think you’re interested in a topic, you might learn one or two things. There’s always something to be learned,” Lynch said.
In fact, HealthPorte has many regulars. While some come for the camaraderie, the chance to learn more about their health and interact with physicians keeps them coming back every month.
“It’s interesting to hear the doctors talk,” attendee Bill Smith said. “We come with our friends, and it’s a good breakfast. It’s nice to have these events and we come every month, faithfully.”
If you missed Tuesday’s talk, there’s another chance to hear Dr. Patel speak at HealthPorte on October 22. You can find more information, or register for the event here: https://www.porterhealth.com/classes-events/monthly-healthporte-breakfast-36031
HealthPorte programs are open to anyone aged 50 or better. Find out more and get on the HealthPorte email list through Porter’s website here: https://www.porterhealth.com/healthporte
In addition, Dr. Patel is accepting new patients at his Valparaiso office. Conveniently schedule an appointment online or get more information here: https://www.porterphysiciangroup.com/doctors-providers/patel-sunil-md-6839