‘Tis the season…and this season, the flu is spreading quickly! Pennsylvania alone has confirmed a startling 16,511 cases so far. Turn on any news program and you’re likely to see a segment with medical professionals providing advice to help us avoid contracting the flu. It’s pretty standard information:
- Get a flu vaccine (suggested for everyone 6 months of age and older).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
But what should you do if you’ve taken all those precautions and still contract the flu virus? Here are some important facts to keep in mind:
- Although there are many over-the-counter medications you can take to manage flu symptoms, they will not make you less contagious or shorten the life of the virus to help avoid further medical complications.
- It is best to go to doctor and to do so early. Antiviral medications that can lessen the severity of the virus are most effective when started within the first 2 days of infection.
- If you cannot get to the doctor and/or choose to treat the flu without medication, you should get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration, use a cool, damp cloth on your forehead to help reduce the discomfort of a fever, use a humidifier to keep air moist and make breathing easier, and be sure to keep warm to lessen chills.
And what if it’s not you who has contracted the flu, but someone else in your household?
- Try to keep the sick person away from the other members of the household to avoid the spread of the virus. Keep their “sick room” and bathroom well-ventilated and very clean (disinfecting daily). Disinfect any household surfaces touched by the sick person immediately.
- Have one adult take care of the sick person, while avoiding face-to-face contact as much as possible and keeping mind to wash hands thoroughly after any contact with the person, their linens, or anything else they may have touched.
- Be sure the sick person takes their medications as directed. Seek immediate medical attention should symptoms worsen – especially if the person experiences seizures, sudden vomiting, dizziness, confusion, difficulty breathing, or purple discoloration of the lips. http://www.flu.gov/symptoms-treatment/caring-for-someone/index.html
Keep all of these tips in mind and hopefully, if you aren’t able to prevent the flu from invading your household, you’ll at least be able to shorten its stay!