With the number of seasonal flu cases dramatically rising across San Diego County, Scripps Health is offering valuable tips to avoid getting sick and to deal with the illness if it strikes.
“The best protection against the flu, especially now that the flu season is surging, is getting vaccinated,” said Scripps Health Chief Medical Officer James LaBelle, MD. “In addition, people should wash their hands thoroughly and often, and avoid contact with sick people.”
The number of lab-confirmed influenza cases has risen significantly with 3,873 reported so far this season, compared to 599 at the same time last year, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency’s Influenza Watch report for the week that ended on Dec. 23. Eleven flu-related deaths have been reported so far, compared to four at this time last year.
Those most at risk of developing flu-related complications include people 65 years and older, children under the age of 2, pregnant women, people with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, neurological conditions, blood disorders, weakened immune system and morbid obesity.
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.
Other flu season tips
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Watch out for flu symptoms, which can include a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
- Stay away from sick people.
- If you become sick, stay home from work and school and avoid contact with 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.
- 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.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes.
- Check with your doctor to see if you should be treated with an antiviral drug. Scripps patients can call 1-800-SCRIPPS (1-800-727-4777) to schedule a visit.
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