Saturday, January 12, 2013

Who Wants the Flu?

Cold and flu season is here again and nobody wants a cold or the flu.  Here are some tips to help prevent the spread of cold or flu and some ways to help you feel better if you get sick.


Symptoms of cold and flu are similar. You may have some or all of these symptoms. 

  • fever *Not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • body aches
  • headache
  • chills
  • fatigue
  • sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

A flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.  This year’s vaccine has only been moderately (62%) effective in preventing the flu so it is important, whether you have had the vaccine, or not, to follow these tips to help prevent getting the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.  This is the NUMBER ONE way to prevent the spread of infection.  Teach children to wash their hands.  

Clean hands prevent the flu:
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.  If someone is coughing or sneezing, try to stay at least 6 feet away from them.
If you are sick with a cold or flu, prevent the spread to others.
  • The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • When you sneeze or cough, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sneeze/cough into your elbow (not your hand). Throw used tissues in the trash after you use it.
Remember: Colds and flu are viruses and antibiotics will not help you unless you have a bacterial infection on top of the viral cold/flu infection.

Care for yourself when you are sick:

  • Get plenty of rest, give your body time to recover.

  • Eat lightly and keep hydrated, you may have a poor appetite, that is normal when you are sick. It is important to drink and keep hydrated.  Hot tea with honey and lemon are helpful if you have a sore throat and/or cough.

  • If you are congested it may be helpful to avoid dairy which increases mucous production

There are medicines available, over the counter, to treat fever, cough and congestion.  Read labels carefully and follow directions.  Do not take more than the recommended dosage.  Pay particular attention to "cold medicines" that have multiple ingredients.  Example: If a cold medicine has acetaminophen, don't take additional acetaminophen (Tylenol) you can overdose and damage your liver.  I prefer to treat the symptoms and use medicine for each symptom.  Yes, you will be taking more medicine, but you will not be taking more dosage of each medicine and you will customize your medicine to only those symptoms you have.  You will not be taking medicine for symptoms you don't have.  Example: if you don't have a cough, there is not reason for you to take something that has cough medicine in it.  
If symptoms persist or get worse, see a doctor.
Certain people are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, elderly persons, pregnant women and people with certain long-term medical conditions) If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor. Remind them about your high risk status for flu.
CDC Emergency warning signs:
In children
  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or not interacting
  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
  • Fever with a rash
In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
In adults
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
This video is was made for healthcare workers, but it's fun for everyone to watch:

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