Flu season has hit early in North Carolina, and this one packs a punch. Nearly 100 flu-related deaths have been reported across North Carolina. Many patients are testing positive for a strain of the flu every day at our emergency departments.
Some of those who tested positive left with prescriptions for an antiviral medication commonly called Tamiflu, the oral medication recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to treat flu this season. Keep in mind, though, that Tamiflu is most beneficial if it is taken within 48 hours after symptoms appear. Antiviral medication may speed up your recovery from the flu, but healthy individuals can often recover at home with over-the-counter medications.
The young, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women are most at risk for flu complications. If they believe they have the flu, they should visit their doctor’s office, an urgent care facility or an emergency department. If the flu leads to pneumonia, it can become deadly, particularly for the elderly.
The flu can be severe. If you see any of these warning signs, you should head to the emergency department.
For infants and children:
- Trouble breathing
- Bluish skin
- Inactivity and sleepiness
- Not wanting to be touched
- Flu symptoms that seem to get better and then return with fever and cough
- Fever and rash
- Not eating
- Crying without tears
- Diapers that are dryer than normal
- Trouble breathing
- Pain or pressure in the upper body
- Dizziness and confusion
- Continual vomiting
- Flu symptoms that seem to get better then return with fever and cough
Many times, the symptoms are similar to the common cold, but the effects are much more severe.
We will focus on the flu today, but even if you have some less severe communicable disease, you should follow these same guidelines for what to do if you have the flu:
Unless you are on your way to the doctor’s office, you should be at home. Snuggle up with a warm blanket and a good Wi-Fi signal and isolate yourself from human contact. You will be contagious for five to seven days, and you owe it to everyone else to keep your virus to yourself. You should not emerge from your cocoon until 24 hours after your fever is gone.
Don’t go to work. Don’t be a hero or a martyr, and don’t believe that the office can’t function without you.
Also, don’t go to practice and high-five everybody who will eventually touch the basketball, and don’t go to the grocery store and rub your germs on the shopping carts and the credit card pads.
And if you want to make your bout with the flu more bearable, drink lots of fluids.
To avoid the flu
- Wash your hands often. The flu virus does not penetrate skin, but if it’s on your hand and you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, it will infiltrate your body.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
- If you haven’t been vaccinated, get your flu shot.