No one wants to get the flu.
With symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, and body aches, the Influenza virus can make for a decidedly miserable experience with possibly deadly consequences: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the flu has contributed to more than 3,000 deaths every year in the United States since 1976.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stay healthy this year.
1. Get your flu shot.
Flu season typically runs from September through February, during which time we encourage you to come see us for your flu shot. Studies show that by receiving an annual flu shot you may be up to 60 percent less likely to need treatment for the flu.*
Getting the vaccine may also offer considerable other benefits, including reducing:
- Antibiotic use
- Time lost from work
- The number of flu-related deaths
2. Wash your hands often.
Please remember to wash your hands frequently. Frequent hand washing will help prevent the spread of flu to our friends, family, patients, co-workers and their visitors. When visiting a patient in one of our facilities, know that antibacterial hand sanitizer is available in the main lobbies, emergency department lobbies, patient rooms and nursing stations.
3. If you're sick, stay home.
Staying home and resting is preferable to struggling through the daily routine, as it helps you recover and prevents the spread of the disease to your coworkers and their families. You are contagious one day before your symptoms start and up to a week after becoming sick.
4. Cover your cough.
The flu is a droplet-borne illness, so those coughs and sneezes spread diseases. Cough into a sleeve, elbow, or tissue that you throw away immediately, rather than into your hands.
Most healthy children and adults experiencing the following symptoms should stay home the first 24 hours. Those with high-risk health issues should call the doctor first, and consider getting care through their primary care doctor instead of going to the emergency room, unless symptoms worsen.
Flu symptoms are usually sudden and include:
- Fever (often high)*
- Headache (often severe)
- Muscle/body aching (often severe)
- Runny or congested nose
- Sore throat
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea (not as common as the other symptoms and less common in adults with the flu)
* It's important to note that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
According to the Centers for Disease control, flu symptoms that require emergency care in children include:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Significant irritability so that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
Contact your primary care provider first. If you are unable to get in to see your regular provider, make a virtual visit with a UPMC provider with UPMC AnywhereCare. UPMC AnywhereCare offers patients with non-emergency symptoms quick online access to high-quality care — anytime, anywhere.