The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with health care providers at Winona Health, remind people to take precautions to avoid the spread of flu.
“We are seeing influenza in Winona, and the Minnesota Department of Health lists influenza as widespread, which is their highest rating,” noted Brett Whyte, MD, medical chief of staff at Winona Health.
Influenza can range from being an uncomfortable inconvenience to being a severe illness. While people can’t always prevent getting the flu, there are several things they can do to reduce their risk. Winona Health encourages everyone to adopt these simple practices to help limit spread of the flu virus:
• Get a flu shot.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Then throw the tissue away. If a tissue is not available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve rather than into your hands.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
• If showing symptoms of the flu or a cold, stay home from work or school, avoid going out to public places, get sufficient rest and drink plenty of fluids.
Treatment information from the CDC
If you get the flu, antiviral drugs are a treatment option. It is very important that antiviral drugs are used early to treat hospitalized patients, people with severe flu illness, and people who are at high risk for flu complications because of their age, severity of illness, or underlying medical conditions. If you have severe illness or are at high risk of serious flu complications, you may be treated with flu antiviral drugs if you get the flu. If you have a high-risk condition, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having milder illness instead of very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay. Other people also may be treated with antiviral drugs by their doctor this season. Most otherwise-healthy people who get the flu, however, do not need to be treated with antiviral drugs. Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick. However, starting antivirals later can still be helpful for some people. If your health care provider thinks you have the flu, your health care provider may prescribe antiviral drugs. A test for flu is not necessary. Antibiotics are not effective against the flu. Using antibiotics inappropriately can lead to antibiotic resistance and may expose patients to unwanted side effects of the drug.
A fact sheet is available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/antivirals/whatyoushould.htm.
If you have concerns or if something doesn’t seem right, call your primary health care provider’s office or visit the Urgent Care Clinic or hospital emergency department.
Same-day appointments usually are available for adults and children who are ill. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider at Winona Health, call 507-454-3650.
Symptoms of a cold versus flu symptoms
• Fever: When you have a cold, it is rare in adults and older children, but can be as high as 102 degrees F in infants and small children. When you have the flu, it can be anywhere from a usual 102 degrees F to a very high 104 degrees. This usually last three to four days.
• Headaches: Rare with colds, but can be severe with the flu, and are often sudden.
• Muscle aches: Mild in colds, but sudden and severe with the flu.
• Tiredness and weakness: Mild in colds, but can last two or more weeks with influenza.
• Extreme exhaustion: Not a symptom of a cold, but is sudden and severe with the flu.
• Runny nose, sneezing and sore throat: Often, these are associated with a cold, but can sometimes be seen with the flu.
• Cough: You may experience a mild, hacking cough with a cold, but usually with the flu, this can become severe.