What to do about the flu?



Influenza (flu) is a viral illness that tends to occur in the winter. It is easily passed from one person to another. Symptoms of the flu are fatigue, high fever, shaking chills, aches and pains, a headache, and a cough. The flu is not the same thing as the common cold, though a cold is also a viral illness. The flu lasts for up to 10 days and makes a person feel pretty bad the whole time. The flu can be dangerous, even deadly, for people older than 65 and those with chronic health problems, like diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. Antibiotics will not treat the flu because antibiotics are for bacteria. Here’s what to do at home:

1) Stay home from work and avoid public places for several days after you get sick so you don’t give the flu to anyone else.

2) If you live alone, have a friend or family member check in or call you every day to make sure you are okay.

3) Get plenty of rest.

4) Drink plenty of water to replace fluids lost from fever. Ialso helps ease a scratchy throat. Try juice and soup.

5) Take Tylenol or Motrin as needed for the fever, headache, and muscle aches.
6) Get a flu shot, if desired. They are not foolproof as there is more than one flu virus, but they can help prevent the illness. Adults over 50 should get a flu shot every fall. The older a person is, the worse the flu can be. Flu shots are even more important if you have chronic illness or if you live with someone who is at high risk.

You are feeling sick or hurting. Do you call the doctor, reach for the first aid kit, or call the paramedics? Here are some guidelines that can help you decide:
1) Call 911 if you or someone else has crushing chest pain; trouble breathing; severe bleeding; signs of a heart attack, shock, or stroke; or if a fall has occurred causing a head injury or loss of movement. (Signs of a stroke may include: sudden loss of strength, speech, or vision; a problem with balance; sudden severe headache; or drooping of one side of the mouth and face.)

2) Go to the ER if the problem needs immediate attention or could result in hospitalization. This could be severe pain; a very high fever (over 101’ F); dehydration; eye injuries; or infections. (The Center for Disease Control estimated that only 12% of ER visits were necessary. You can always call a nurse hotline to help you decide if you need to go to the ER or not.)

3) Go to an urgent care facility (and most insurances have arrangements for urgent care offices) if it is clear that your situation isn’t life threatening; or if it is after doctor office hours, or you doctor has no appointments available that day. Types of urgent problems include: strep throat, broken fingers, or cuts.

4) Stay home if the registered nurse or doctor says it is okay. Common things that can be managed at home for the most part for the flu, colds, stomach bugs, minor sprains or uninfected cuts that can be cared for by fluids, ice, ointment, or band-aids.


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