Good Samaritan Hospital’s Flu Prevention Checklist
Flu season officially started on September 1st. Fall is the time to protect your family and yourself from the flu by getting the flu vaccine. Influenza (flu) is a contagious disease caused by the influenza virus, which can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or nasal secretions. Anyone can get influenza, but rates of infection are highest among children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has strongly recommended that everyone six months of age and older get a flu shot. Check with your doctor or local pharmacist (who is now permitted to administer the flu vaccine) about scheduling an appointment soon.
The flu spreads easily from person to person. When someone with the flu coughs or sneezes, the virus is carried in the wet spray that comes out of their nose and mouth. If you are near, you can breathe in the virus and get sick. The flu virus also contaminates things you may touch such as doorknobs, phones and toys. After handling these objects, the virus can infect you when you touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
To lower your chances of getting or spreading the flu:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough into your elbow.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Use a household cleaner to sterilize things that are touched often, such as door and refrigerator handles, computer keyboards, phones and toys.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Keep approximately 3 to 6 feet between yourself and other people.
- If you are sick, stay home. You can spread the flu even when you feel better. Adults can spread the flu for about five days and children can spread the flu for about seven days.
“The flu comes on very quickly and makes you feel quite sick,” said Good Samaritan Hospital’s Director of Infection Prevention Kathy DiBenedetto, RN. “The symptoms of flu are fatique, fever, severe muscle aches, dry cough, headache and sore throat, unlike the common cold symptoms, which usually affect your nose and a fever.”
To treat a fever, give fever-reducing medicines such as acetaminophen (e.g.,Tylenol), ibuprofen or aspirin (children should not be given aspirin for a fever). Wear lightweight clothes and keep the room comfortably cool. Get sufficient rest and prevent dehydration by consuming plenty of water, soups, and fruit or vegetable juices. Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol. Most people recover from the flu within a week or so, but others can become very ill and need to be hospitalized.
Call a doctor if someone has:
- Fever lasting more than three days
- Fever or cough that goes away for 24 hours and then returns
- Fever with a stiff neck, bad headache, severe sore throat, earache or rash
- Less urine (or urine is dark)
- Phlegm that is green, brown or bloody
- Vomiting for a long time
- Difficulty drinking
- Any other unusual symptoms or concerns
- Not improved after a week
Call 911 if someone is:
- Having trouble breathing
- Having chest pain
- Confused or unable to wake up
- Unable to sit or walk
- Presenting skin that is bluish or gray
- Having a seizure (uncontrolled twitching or shaking)
Speak to your health care provider about more ways to protect yourself against flu or visit www.good-samaritan-hospital.org.
Manager, Public and External Affairs