Healthy Cleveland – Influenza

Welcome back for another episode of TV20’s Healthy Cleveland! In this episode, TV20 host Leah Longbrake sat down once again with Medical Director for the Cleveland Department of Public Health, Dr. Natalie Hinchcliffe to discuss influenza.

With school back in session and the temperature dropping lower, it’s that time of year again: flu season. Influenza, also known as “the flu”, is a respiratory infection that strikes millions of Americans every year.

It’s likely you’ve already had a strain of the flu at some point in your life, as it is incredibly easy to contract. Shaking hands, sharing utensils, or even touching the same doorknob as someone who is currently infected can greatly increase your risk of infection.

Influenza can and will strike quickly, with symptoms reaching their full severity within 48 hours. These symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • High Fever
  • Runny Nose
  • Cough
  • Body Aches

For many, getting the flu means taking a day or two off work/school, but there are groups who are more susceptible to harsher symptoms and reactions than others. These include:

  • Children under the age of 2
  • Adults over the age of 65
  • Pregnant woman
  • Women up to two weeks post-birth
  • Asthmatics
  • Individuals suffering from chronic conditions

As mentioned, those susceptible groups can find themselves affected much worse by an influenza infection. Those with chronic conditions can expect them to worsen, with increased risks of heart failure, asthma, and bacterial pneumonia also being of concern.

If an individual is aware of worsening symptoms before the 48 hour mark, urgent care can provide the medication necessary to prevent and reduce the symptoms. The 48 hour mark is seen as a “hard limit” for medication. Visiting a doctor’s office or urgent care three or more days into an infection is unlikely to provide any benefit.

One of the best methods to preventing an influenza infection and many other diseases is a vaccination. The City of Cleveland offers free vaccinations for residents at two of their health centers:

T.F. McCafferty Health Center                             
4242 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, OH 44113

(216) 651-5005
Flu shots available beginning Monday, September 30th, 2019

J. Glen Smith Health Center
11100 St. Clair Ave, Cleveland, OH 44108

(216) 249-4100
Flu shots available beginning Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

For more information on influenza or the Cleveland Department of Public Health, visit their website at or call 216-664-2324. You can also find them on and on Twitter @CleDPH.