A special guest post from FMH Infection Preventionist Gail Sonnenberg.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the timing of the flu season varies from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways, some flu seasons are very mild, while others can be much more widespread. The CDC has not made a prediction about this coming flu season.
Here at FMH, every year we take steps to keep our patients and our staff safe from infection. We require our staff to take the flu vaccine, unless they have specific medical or religious reasons for not being vaccinated. This protects patients from being exposed to staff with the flu, and assures that our staff is healthy in order to provide care to our patients.
The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months of age get a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.
Flu vaccines are offered in many locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, as well as by some employers and schools. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season. The Frederick County Health Department will offer FREE flu shots to children six months to 17 years old during a series of clinics beginning October 5th. Schedule your appointment today!
During the flu season, or at any time of the year, if you are not feeling well you should postpone visiting friends or family here at the hospital. Patients appreciate phone calls from friends and family as well as personal visits.
If you are coming to the hospital to seek treatment for flu symptoms, please let our staff know about your symptoms as soon as you arrive. We’ll give you a mask, hand sanitizer, and information to help you fight the flu. Anyone accompanying you will also be asked to wear a mask—if you’ve been exposed to someone with the flu, you can be incubating and contagious for about 24 hours before you develop symptoms.
During flu season, you may find our waiting rooms more crowded than usual. We recommend that you limit the number of people you bring to the hospital with you. Only one person will be allowed into the treatment area of the emergency department with you.
Not everyone who has the flu needs to be seen by a doctor or needs to have a test to confirm they have the flu. Most people who get the flu recover well by staying home for a few days, drinking lots of fluids, and getting lots of rest.
Flu Signs and Symptoms
- Fever of 100.0° or more
- Plus one or more of the following:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or joint aches
- Sometimes, not always:
Self Care for the Flu
- Stay home, except to seek medical care
- If you must go to the doctor’s office or hospital, wear a mask. Tell the staff at the reception desk that you think you have the flu, they will give you a mask.
- Get lots of rest, drink plenty of fluids
- Take Tylenol or ibuprofen for your fever, never take aspirin
- Cover your cough with a tissue or cough/sneeze into your sleeve
- Deposit used tissues in a trash can, the wash your hands so you don’t spread germs
- Limit contact with other people. In the doctor’s waiting room, sit at least 3 feet away from other people
- Stay home until you have been free of fever (without medication) for 24 hours
When to Seek Immediate Medical Care
- You are severely ill
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Sudden onset of dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Chest pain
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or interacting
- So irritable that he or she does not want to be held
- Flu symptoms improve but then return with a fever and a worse cough
- Fever with a rash
- Being unable to eat
- Crying without shedding tears