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Flu Season Precautions
How to Avoid Influenza
Influenza is a respiratory disease caused by two main types of viruses. Scientists and the government try to predict what type of influenza will occur each year, in advance, so that flu vaccine can be made, and given to as many people as possible. The flu vaccine cannot provide 100% protection from influenza. It is difficult to predict what strain of the virus will be predominate. However, usually the flu shot provides some protection, and every year the people we support and their caregivers must have a discussion with the doctor about getting the flu shot. The best time to be vaccinated is in October or November.
Symptoms of influenza (depending on the strain, the symptoms may vary, but in general they are): Fever, chills, headache, fever, dry cough, aching in muscles and joints and overall fatigue which can last for several days after all other symptoms are resolved.
People who are frail or debilitated are at risk for life-threatening complications including pneumonia.
Viruses do not respond to antibiotics. Treatment of symptoms is the best approach, along with getting plenty of rest.
How to Prevent Spreading
Influenza is spread from person to person when droplets of moisture from a person with influenza are spread through the air when the person coughs, sneezes or talks. The following are a few preventative measures to help limit the spread of influenza:
- Wash hands frequently throughout the day.
- Cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. It’s best not to cover with your hand. Cover with the crook of your arm.
- Encourage the person who has the influenza to maintain some distance from others. If the person infected will wear a mask to decrease droplet spread that may help to avoid infecting others.
- Eat a well-balanced diet and get plenty of rest, as this could help build up resistance to the viruses.
When to Seek Medical Treatment
When the above symptoms are coupled with one or more of the following:
- A fever that remains at 101 F oral, for more than a day, or goes above 103 F.
- A significant change in sleeping or eating habits that lasts more than 24 hours.
- A significant shortness of breathe that does not resolve.
- Anyone with asthma, emphysema, heart problems or diabetes.
When to Stay Home
An infected person will be contagious from 24 hours before symptoms appear to up to 5 days after the onset of symptoms. When someone is very sick, he or she may remain contagious for up to a week so be cautious about returning to your daily routine until symptoms resolve!