We are in the season to spend time with family, friends and colleagues. It’s also that time of the year to make sure to be prepared for what can occur in those interactions — the flu. Before worrying that you are bound to get the wretched virus that spreads like a wildfire, William R. Griffitts, doctor of osteopathic medicine at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital provides tips for prevention: What to do if you get the flu and tips to stay healthy throughout the year.
There is wide access to health care options. Just a few options include walk-in care, primary care physicians and the hospital emergency department. According to Griffitts, look at your needs before going out to save time, money and frustration. The first step when you are sick is to look at the symptoms.
“Both flu and the common cold are caused by upper respiratory viruses, so the symptoms can be similar,” Griffitts said. “However, the hallmark of influenza is that it’s generally much more severe, with higher fever that typically lasts days longer, muscle aches, headache and cough.”
He also explains that cold viruses typically cause a runny nose, sore throat, cough and a low fever, or no fever at all. With this, his advice is to schedule a visit with your primary care physician if you start to have flu-like symptoms.
“If your health insurance offers a nurse line, that is also a good resource to get your questions answered regarding the flu,” Griffitts adds.
According to Griffitts, many hospitals are seeing severe cases of the flu around the country and the easiest way to avoid it is to get the flu shot. Other methods for avoiding the flu is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds. Furthermore, using an alcohol-based sanitizer will also help to avoid the virus. If you are planning on being in a large crowd make sure to use antiseptic wipes, if unable to wash your hands frequently.
If you do have the flu, make sure to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing. Additionally, once you are symptom-free and feverless, stay home an additional 24 to 48 hours to prevent spreading the flu to others.
“If you do get the flu, drink plenty of fluids, get a lot of rest and take over-the-counter medications for symptom relief, as directed by your doctor,” Griffitts said. “Stay home and avoid other people, especially those who are high-risk.”
While there are many ways to avoid getting the flu and ways to help if you do get the flu, make sure to contact your physician or visit a local urgent care clinic. Be sure to take care of yourself throughout the year and schedule checkups regularly.
For more information about the flu, symptoms and more, visit the Sutter Health Flu Resource web page.