Flu-cases on the rise in U.S., how Austin Regional Clinic says to prepare

It's a feeling no one enjoys going through, getting the flu. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. 

"The major part of the flu has not rolled in yet so the flu vaccine is helpful and we still recommend it."

Jerry Fincken has been a family doctor at Austin Regional Clinic for 18 years. He says the best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

As of Jan. 22 the CDC says flu activity has elevated nationally, and they're urging folks to take the proper steps to protect themselves.

"Handwashing is the best way to protect yourself for sure. Covering your cough. Close contact with other people who are sick of course increases risk but mainly but handwashing is the best,” Dr. Fincken says.

He says folks at ARC carefully watch patients to see if there's an influx in the amount of people being treated for different things, including the flu.

"Here in Austin and our clinic we've been seeing an increase the past couple of weeks."

Dr. Fincken shared some of the common misconceptions about the flu with Fox 7 Austin. He says many people think the flu shot causes the flu. He says data has proved this to be false.  Another misconception? Folks thinking medicines like Tamiflu can reduce flu-like symptoms. 

He adds, "They make them a little less contagious but you still have to treat the symptoms with usual recommendations."

Dr. Fincken usually recommends patients to take Tamiflu if they have chronic respiratory issues, chronic illness, young patients and older patients too. He says the flu can suddenly hit you, so the earlier you see a professional, the better.

"If you have a rapid fever, bad body aches and those other symptoms definitely talk to a clinic or come in and see a doctor.”

Dr. Fincken says using a face mask is also helpful because these viruses are aerosolized, so covering the mouth of someone who is sick with a mask is effective.