Battling the Flu

Flu season is in full swing, and hospitals throughout Connecticut, including Middlesex Hospital, are helping an increasing number of patients as they battle the contagious respiratory illness.

The flu, also known as influenza, is a serious illness that should not be ignored, and it can prompt mild to severe symptoms and can lead to death. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of the flu and what to do if you get it. It’s also good to know what you can do to lessen your odds of catching the flu.

What are the signs?

The flu usually comes on suddenly, and people who have the flu often have some, or all, of the following symptoms:

• Fever (or feeling feverish with chills)

• Cough (not as frequent as  a cold)

• Sore throat • Runny or stuffy nose

• Muscle or body aches

• Headaches

• Fatigue (tiredness)

• Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

How do I keep from getting the flu?

According to Jodi Parisi and Katie Benn, Middlesex Hospital’s infection preventionists, flu season varies, but is usually between October and April. It peaks in January and February.

There are certain things you can do to keep from getting the flu. For example, Parisi and Benn urge you to avoid close contact with sick people and to cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or a sleeve. You should also clean your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and clean and disinfect surfaces that could become contaminated with germs.

Is it too late to get a flu shot?

Flu season can extend into April or later. As a result, getting a flu shot now can still be beneficial.

The flu vaccine can keep you from getting sick with the flu, or passing it on to someone who can become very sick or die from a complication of the flu, such as a child; a pregnant woman; or an adult with a weak immune system, chronic heart or lung disease or who is advanced in age. Complications often can include pneumonia, dehydration, ear and sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions.

The flu vaccine is not 100 percent protective. While not perfect, it is by far the best way to protect you and your loved ones from the flu or to improve the course of the flu if you should catch it.

What should I do if I have flu symptoms?

If you think you have the flu, Dr. Alina Filozov, Infectious Disease section chief at Middlesex Hospital, says to stay home and rest. This will help protect you from complications, and it will prevent the spread of the flu.

You should also drink plenty of fluids and warm beverages, and take Acetaminophen to relieve fever and aches. If you have difficulty breathing, are unable to keep up with fluid or food intake, feel lightheaded or dizzy, are unable to think clearly, or have symptoms that do not improve within a few days, call your doctor.

Most people with the flu get better within one to two weeks on their own. Most healthy people develop an illness consistent with uncomplicated influenza, and these individuals do not need antiviral medications.

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Public Relations Director
Amanda Falcone

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