Keeping Our Friars Healthy and “Flu-Free” – Helpful Tips from Nurse Barton
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We are at the mid-point of the current Influenza (flu) season and the number of cases in North Texas is rising. Here are some tips from Nurse Barton to keep our Friars healthy and minimize the severity of flu symptoms in the event that the virus hits your family.
- Know the difference between cold and flu. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly and symptoms include high fever, severe head, muscle and body aches, chills, sore throat, exhaustion and dry cough. Children may also have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cold symptoms tend to come on gradually and they include stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat and hacking cough. Note that some people with influenza may not have a fever.
- Make sure your family members get a flu vaccine! Flu season peaks from December through March, so it is not too late! Note: For the 2016-2017 season, CDC recommends the use of the flu shot for everyone, including children age 6 months and older. Per the CDC, the nasal spray flu vaccine should not be used during 2016-2017 as it does not effectively protect against the spread of this year’s virus.
- Encourage healthy habits: Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water; cover mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing-preferably into the inside of the elbow or with a tissue and disposing of the tissue immediately into the trash; avoid sharing drinks, water bottles, eating utensils and cell phones; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. You can help prevent the flu from spreading at home by disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and commonly shared items. Get plenty of rest, eat healthy and drink lots of fluids to stay healthy!
- Prevent spreading illness to others by keeping your sick children at home until they have been without fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications (Advil, Tylenol, etc.) It is very important for your sick child to get rest and drink plenty of fluids in order to maintain the strength to combat the virus.
- People with the flu may infect others from 1 day prior to getting sick to 5-7 days after. Children and those with weakened immune symptoms can shed the virus for longer and might still be contagious past 7 days.
- Some may benefit from an antiviral medication, which can be prescribed by a doctor to help lessen the number of days that a person is sick with the virus. To be effective, antiviral medication should be taken within 12-48 hours after the flu symptoms begin. A doctor may also prescribe the antiviral to prevent someone from getting the flu. If taken within the first 12-48 hours of exposure to the flu virus there is a 90% chance the medication will keep him/her from getting sick.
- While influenza strikes the very young, the elderly and those with chronic health conditions the hardest, anyone can experience complications from influenza: pneumonia, dehydration, ear and sinus infections and secondary bacterial infections. Flu symptoms typically peak around the 3rd day of illness and should subside within 5-7 days. Return to your physician if symptoms persist or worsen after 7 days.
- Always consult with and follow the advice of your physician regarding the best course of treatment should the influenza virus strike you and/or your family members.