With the number of seasonal flu cases increasing across San Diego County, Scripps Health is offering valuable tips to avoid getting sick and to deal with the illness if it strikes.
“The normal flu season surge is upon us, and even though more people are getting sick, it’s still not too late for people to protect themselves from illness,” said Scripps Chief Medical Officer James LaBelle, MD. “Getting vaccinated, frequent and thorough hand washing and taking extra caution around those who are ill are the best protections.”
The number of lab-confirmed influenza cases has risen significantly recently with 455 reported last week, which was the first week of January, compared to 292 the previous week, according to the county Health and Human Service Agency's Influenza Watch report.
Those facing a higher risk of developing flu-related complications include people 65 years and older, children under age two, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, neurological conditions, blood disorders, weakened immune system and morbid obesity.
“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 schedule a visit.
- Vaccination is the best way to prevent getting the flu. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for enough antibodies to build up in the body and develop immunity.
- 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, such as difficulty 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.
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