With cases of seasonal flu rising quickly across San Diego County, Scripps Health is reminding local residents of some basic tips for keeping influenza at bay and dealing with the illness if it strikes.
“The sudden surge in local flu cases this year might have caught some people off guard, but there is still time to get a flu shot,” said Scripps Chief Medical Officer James LaBelle, M.D. “Vaccination, frequent hand washing and taking extra precautions around those who are ill are the best defenses against infection.”
People who are 65 and older, children under age two, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions (including asthma, heart disease, neurological conditions, blood disorders, a weakened immune system or are morbidly obese) face a higher risk of developing flu-related complications.
“If you feel ill, I’d encourage you to check with your physician,” Dr. LaBelle said. Scripps patients can call 1-800-SCRIPPS (1-800-727-4777) to make an appointment.
Flu season tips
- Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent getting sick. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for enough antibodies to build up in the body to protect against infection.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Avoid contact with sick people.
- Watch out for flu symptoms, which can include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
- If you become sick, stay home from work and school to avoid infecting others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone without using fever-reducing medicine.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Check with your doctor to see if you should be treated with an antiviral drug.
- Avoid the emergency room unless you are suffering from more serious flu symptoms, which include trouble breathing or shortness of breath; chest or abdomen pain or pressure; sudden dizziness; confusion; severe or persistent vomiting; flu symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.
- For children, seek emergency medical help if they are breathing fast or are having trouble breathing; have bluish skin color; aren’t drinking enough fluids, aren’t waking up or interacting; are so irritable they don’t want to be held; have a fever with a rash; aren’t able to eat; don’t shed tears when crying; have significantly fewer wet diapers than normal; flu symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.