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2.18.2013

Not Gone Yet: The Flu’s Still Here

Increase Your Chances of Staying Well

Have you noticed coworkers calling out sick or your cubicle-mates sneezing and coughing? These are all signs that flu season is here. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are calling this the worst flu season in a decade.  While many reports have cited that cases of influenza have dropped over the last few weeks, flu season is still not over, and you are still at risk.

The flu is highly contagious and requires rest for full recovery. If you have the flu, stay home. Going to work or being out and about while sick will only spread the disease.

Health Advocate offers some tips on preventing the flu. While nothing is fool-proof, this information may help keep you safer this flu season as well as help protect you from other respiratory and gastrointestinal bacteria and viruses year-round.

          Get a flu vaccination. This can be one of the most effective ways to avoid the flu. Many employers offer free flu vaccinations onsite. There are also many pharmacy chains that offer the flu vaccination at a low cost.

          Avoid close contact with people who are sick. And if you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.

          Clean your hands. Washing your hands often can help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

          Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.

          Practice other good health habits. The CDC recommends cleaning and in some cases disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone around you is ill. Also, get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

          Think you might have the flu? Know the symptoms. A fever over 100 degrees, achy muscles, chills and sweats, dry cough, fatigue, weakness and congestion could be indicative of the flu. It’s important to remember that many other viruses cause the same symptoms as the flu. Call your medical provider, who may provide advice and, in some cases, anti-viral treatment to help you get better. Some health and age factors can increase a person’s risk of serious complications from the flu–the CDC lists them here—so be sure to seek medical treatment if any of these factors apply to you and you suspect you have the flu.

          Know what constitutes an emergency. Some symptoms indicate a need for immediate medical attention. These symptoms could be caused by the flu, or by a number of other illnesses.  Regardless, if any of the following symptoms are present, the CDC advises that you seek medical help right away.

Children:

  •          Rapid breathing/trouble breathing
  •          Bluish skin color
  •          Not waking up/interacting
  •          Not drinking enough fluids
  •          Irritability to the point where the child doesn’t want to be held
  •          Fever with a rash
  •          Flu-like symptoms going away, then returning with a fever and worse cough

Infants:

  •          Any of the above symptoms
  •          Inability to eat
  •          Produces no tears when crying
  •          Having fewer wet diapers than normal

Adults:

  •          Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  •          Pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
  •          Sudden dizziness
  •          Confusion
  •          Severe or persistent vomiting
  •          Flu-like symptoms going away, then returning with a fever and worse cough

Someone close to you could have the flu–perhaps it is a coworker, your spouse or the person on the train next to you during your commute. While you cant control their health, you can take measures to help keep yourself healthy. If you are a Health Advocate member, call your Personal Health Advocate to learn more about flu prevention.