Flu is a serious contagious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the 2011-2012 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses: an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.
Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. A person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own eyes, mouth or nose. Frequent handwashing or hand sanitation will help to reduce this risk.
Most people who get the flu need no treatment other than symptom relief and get better on their own. However, women who are pregnant, young children, people over 65 and those with certain chronic medical conditions – including asthma, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, neuromuscular disease, kidney disease or liver disease – have an increased risk of developing serious flu-related complications that may lead to hospitalization or even death. People at high risk who think they may have the flu should call their doctor immediately.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has pulled together information for your reference.
Is it the flu or a common cold?
The flu and common cold share many symptoms – including nasal congestion, cough, body aches and fatigue – but there are some key differences. A person with a cold typically feels better after a few days to a week, and rarely has a fever above 101 degrees F. Someone who has the flu, on the other hand, may experience more severe symptoms and usually will have a high fever (100-102 degrees F) that lasts three to four days.
A list of common flu symptoms is available on the CDC's website.
Mercy's visiting policy
Mercy is requesting all hospital visitors to refrain from visiting hospitalized friends or family members if they have had flu-like symptoms during the past seven days. Flu symptoms include:
*It’s important to note that some people with flu will not have a fever.
If you are visiting an ill patient, you may be required to wear a mask. Masks are provided for your protection as well as for that of those around you and help to prevent the spread of flu-like illnesses.
In addition, to help prevent the spread of illness, all visitors are required to wash hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand gel upon entering and exiting a patient’s room.
Help prevent the spread of the flu by posting these flyers at your business, church or school.
What to do if you get sick
The CDC has posted recommendations for people who think they may have the flu. Most people who have the flu need no treatment other than symptom relief and will get better on their own.
However, if you are at high-risk of developing flu-related complications or are not feeling better after five days, please call your doctor or visit one of Mercy's Urgent Care Clinics.