Tina Sary, NP, is a Cottage Health Virtual Health nurse practitioner.
Tina Sary, NP, is a Cottage Health Virtual Health nurse practitioner. (Cottage Health photo)

(Cottage Health photo)

This year’s flu season had an early start, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the number of people with the flu remains high.

While you can catch an influenza virus any time of year, activity is generally highest in the United States from late fall through winter.

When that activity exceeded the national baseline Nov. 9, it signaled “the earliest start to the influenza season since the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic,” according to the CDC.

With widespread concern about catching or spreading COVID-19, the flu, or other viruses, you may understandably be worried about going to the doctor with only mild symptoms. However, delaying treatment can mean you stay sick longer or have other complications. 

Visit a Doctor Online

This is where virtual care comes into play. For example, Cottage CareNow provides access to an experienced team of doctors and nurse practitioners from the safety and convenience of your home.

“Anyone over 18 and located in California can create an account,” said Tina Sary, a nurse practitioner with Cottage Health. “You can also add adult dependents and minor children to your account.”

To get care, you simply enter your symptoms, health information, and contact information.

“A member of Cottage CareNow’s team of doctors or nurse practitioners will review your results and respond with a treatment plan within one hour, or request an immediate face-to-face video visit,” Sary said. “If appropriate, prescriptions will be sent to your preferred pharmacy.”

Get Medicine When It’s Needed

Flu antiviral drugs are most effective when taken within 48 hours of symptoms appearing, which makes the ability to speak to a doctor online during flu season essential.

After all, flu medicine “can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days, and can also prevent serious flu complications,” Sary said. “However, treatment must start promptly. This makes virtual care a good option to receive timely care as there is no appointment necessary.”

Tina Sary, NP, Cottage Health Virtual Health nurse practitioner, meets with a patient during a video visit.

Tina Sary, NP, Cottage Health Virtual Health nurse practitioner, meets with a patient during a video visit. (Cottage Health photo)

Those symptoms may include a stuffy or runny nose, cough, sore throat, headache, fever, or muscle aches.

With virtual care, doctors can also diagnose and treat other illnesses, including urinary tract infections, skin rashes, sore throats, and gastrointestinal issues.

Prevent the Flu

Of course, the best option when it comes to the flu is to prevent it in the first place by getting an annual vaccination for you and everyone in your family over 6 months old. This year, the flu vaccine cut related doctor’s visits by almost half, according to the CDC.

Good hygiene is also key to stopping the spread of the flu, including covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, washing your hands frequently, staying home if you feel sick, and using a face mask if you become ill and need to come into contact with others.

Get Help Now

You can get virtual help from Cottage CareNow any day, anytime, from anywhere in California. If Cottage CareNow cannot address your health concern, the provider will help you find another option, including referring you to a primary care physician. You will also not be charged for your visit.

Visit cottagehealth.org/carenow for more information and to get the medical advice and treatment you need now.