The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

December 5, 2012

Is it the flu? Know what to do


Wednesday, December 5, 2012 — Did you know that approximately 5-20 percent of U.S. residents get the flu each year?

It is a staggering statistic and Stanly Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Department wants to keep you at home and healthy this winter.

Dr. Paul D’Amico, the unit’s medical director, states that common symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuff nose, body aches, chills, headache, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. He adds that it’s important to know that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

If you have these flu-like symptoms, you should stay home and away from other people except to get medical care. Most people, however, can recover from the flu without medical care by resting at home and taking over the-counter medications.  

Some people are at greater risk for serious complications and should seek treatment from their primary care provider. This includes older adults, young children, people with certain long-term health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease and women who are pregnant.

“The emergency department should be used for people who are very sick and not those who are mildly ill,” D’Amico said.  

“If you come to the emergency department and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it.”

Stanly Regional, along with many primary care physician offices, are reporting growing numbers of patients diagnosed with the flu.

There are “emergency warning signs” that should signal anyone to seek medical care urgently. If you notice any of the following symptoms, go directly to the Emergency Department:

In children:

Fast breathing or trouble breathing;

Bluish skin color;

Not drinking enough fluids;

Not waking up or not interacting;

Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held;

Flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough; and

Fever with a rash.

In adults:

Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;

Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen;

Sudden dizziness;

Confusion; and,

Severe or persistent vomiting.

You should stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Stay away from others as much as possible to reduce the chances of making others sick. Continue to cover coughs and sneezes and always wash your hands.  

D’Amico adds that although fall is the best time to get vaccinated, it is still worthwhile to get vaccinated now. You will develop immunity to the flu about two weeks after you are vaccinated.