Protecting yourself and others during flu season
With this year’s flu season hitting harder and earlier than ever, Amery Hospital & Clinic has some tips to help you protect yourself and others from the virus.
“The easiest but most important thing for people to remember during flu season is that if you have flu-like symptoms you should stay home,” says Infection Prevention Coordinator Lynn Gaffney, RN, WCC, from Amery Hospital & Clinic. “By leaving your home to go to work, school or even your doctor’s office, you run the risk of spreading the illness to others.”
According to Gaffney, a person suffering from the flu is highly contagious from the day before symptoms appear up until seven days after symptoms begin. This is why it is increasingly important to get vaccinated.
“Getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from the flu,” says Gaffney. “Even in cases where someone gets vaccinated and still catches the virus, the flu shot will reduce the severity of the illness.”
Other ways you can avoid catching or spreading the flu include rest, physical activity and healthy eating.
If you are suffering from flu-like symptoms, Gaffney recommends contacting your care line to speak with a nurse who can recommend the best option for treatment, or visiting virtuwell online, which provides diagnosis and prescriptions by certified nurse practicioners.
“People feel terrible when they have the flu, so it is their first instinct to go to the doctor. Unfortunately, we can’t always provide treatment since the flu is caused by a virus and antibiotics are not effective,” says Gaffney.
When seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms, it’s important to understand your options:
• Self-treatment : In most cases, people with the flu can manage their symptoms with self-treatment and do not need to come into the clinic, urgent care of emergency department for medical treatment. For those who are not at risk of flu complications, physicians recommend getting plenty of rest, drinking lots of hydrating fluids and by taking acetaminophen an ibuprofen to help lower your temperature.
• In-person care: People should seek medical treatment if they have the flu and are having difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, experience sudden dizziness or confusion, severe vomiting or if they are pregnant or have delivered a baby within two weeks.
• High-risk patients: People should also consult their doctor if they have the flu and have chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease or if they experience a weakened immune system due to illness, medication, chemotherapy or HIV/AIDS.
For more information about the treatment and prevention of influenza, visit http://www.healthpartners.com/flu.