How can you recognize flu symptoms? What’s the best treatment for someone with the flu? How do you keep the flu from spreading to friends and family members? For the answers to these questions, I went straight to the top. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and FLU.GOV had excellent information. Here’s what I gleaned from their websites, mixed with some old fashioned common sense of my own.
Recognizing Flu Symptoms
There are some common flu symptoms you should be aware of. Having these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have the flu. Since the symptoms of the flu and the common cold are so much alike, persons at high risk for developing complications should be tested for the flu by their doctor, when these symptoms occur. Watch for a high fever, chills, headaches, fatigue, cough, a sore throat, runny or blocked nasal passages, body aches, diarrhea or vomiting.
The flu is a serious illness that may even cause death. This is especially true for high risk individuals. Who is at high risk for flu complications? Pregnant women and children are on the list of at risk flu patients. Those over 65 should see a doctor as well. If you have a chronic disease or condition, your immune system may be compromised. It’s wise for everyone to get a flu shot every year, but especially those who fall under these categories.
Treating Flu Symptoms
Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Be sure to do this right after coughing, sneezing or even using tissue to evacuate nasal passages. Drink plenty of hydrating fluids. Stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone, except for necessary doctor or pharmacy visits.. This will keep you from contacting others and provide you with an opportunity to heal. You should stay away from persons at risk, as described in the above paragraph.
When to See a Doctor
Certain flu symptoms are warning signs of complications. You should see a doctor right away if you (or the person you are caring for) has difficulty breathing (not just a stuffy nose), becomes dizzy or disoriented, experiences pressure or pain in the chest, has severe stomach pains, severe and debilitating vomiting or diarrhea, seizures, purple or blue lips, lack of urination or no tears when crying. You should also see a doctor for flu symptoms right away if you (or your patient) are persons at risk.
Preventing Flu from Spreading
The best prevention for the flu is getting an annual shot. These must be given yearly, as the vaccine changes to protect against different current strains. When caring for a person with the flu, consider wearing face masks (you and the patient) to protect against airborne germs. Be sure everyone in the household stays away from the infected person as much as possible and washes hands diligently. It can also help to keep the patient in a separate room. Use a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide to keep surfaces and air germ free. Dispose of all paper cleaning towels and tissues immediately after use.