PHOENIX -- Americans underestimate flu's severity and neglect dehydration treatment threatening to leave them at increased risk during this flu season, according to the new national Zicam Flu Survey of physicians and consumers across the country a finding that is particularly significant, with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) expecting flu activity to steadily increase during January and peak in February.
The Zicam Flu Survey, designed to examine the attitudes and actions of physicians and consumers about flu, uncovered a potentially dangerous doctor-patient disconnect regarding the perception of flu's severity leaving millions of people with their guard down. While nearly 80 percent of doctors consider flu to be a "very severe" or "extremely severe" illness compared to other typical illnesses, only 42 percent of consumers agreed. Further, the survey found that dehydration is a serious, yet often overlooked, flu side effect. Despite the fact that the majority of doctors (57 percent) considered dehydration the single most dangerous flu side effect -- even above fever -- both physicians and consumers are "all wet" when it comes to targeted treatment. When asked which flu side effects they address, only 9 percent of physicians and less than eight percent of consumers mentioned dehydration.
Leading authorities including the CDC, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Mayo Clinic, either specifically cite dehydration as a key flu complication or cite the importance of drinking plenty of liquids for flu patients.
"The Zicam Flu Survey findings raise a red flag that is a wake-up call to millions of Americans who might underestimate the flu's severity as well as the risk of becoming dehydrated if they do get the flu," said Leanne M. Chrisman-Khawam, MD, MEd, a family physician and associate professor with the Department of Family Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "Flu is a significant illness with serious potential side effects, like dehydration, that must be taken seriously and treated tenaciously. Severe flu symptoms like fever and body aches often keep patients from taking in adequate fluids. By managing symptoms, one will be more likely to manage their dehydration as well."
The Zicam Flu Survey is a national telephone survey of 500 consumers (men and women 18 years and older) and 100 primary-care physicians.
Source: Matrixx Initiatives, Inc.