It’s definitely flu season. Dr. Tanny Davenport of Memorial’s Healthy You Clinic offered tips Jan. 6, 2015 on KIT 1280 for knowing if you or your loved ones have the flu, how to treat it, and whether the illness warrants a trip to the doctor’s office or the hospital Emergency Room.
What are the symptoms of flu?
You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:
fever – though it’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever
runny or stuffy nose
sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
How should I treat the flu?
The best way to treat flu: stay at home and rest. Avoid close contact with people in your house so you won’t make them sick. Wash your hands frequently and drink plenty of water and other clear liquids to prevent dehydration. Treat fever and cough with medicines you can buy at the store.
When is flu serious enough that I should seek medical attention?
Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care. Generally, if you get sick with flu symptoms, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people to avoid spreading the illness.
Some people are at high risk of serious, flu-related complications. They include young children, people age 65 and older, pregnant women and those with certain medical conditions. If you or someone you love is at high risk, or you start to experience more serious symptoms, contact your primary care provider.
What are some of those symptoms?
For children, it’s a concern when they have fast breathing or trouble breathing, when they are not waking up or interacting, of if they’re so irritable that they do not want to be held.
- bluish skin color
- not drinking enough fluids, unable to eat
- flu-like symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough
- fever with a rash
In adults, it’s a concern when they have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, and flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
Do I need to go the emergency room if I am only a little sick?
The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick, not if you are only mildly ill. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or if your symptoms worsen – such as difficulty breathing and some of the other symptoms we mentioned – then it’s time to seek medical attention.
How long should I stay home if I’m sick?
CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.
Frequently asked questions:
How do I know if my child needs to go to the doctor or emergency room?
Parents should make some simple notes tracking the child’s condition, and if you think you’re dealing with an emergency, contact your pediatrician or primary care provider.
If I think my child requires medical attention because of the flu, what information should I have for my pediatrician?
Things to look for include your child’s temperature and when the fever began, a detailed list of any medications you have provided, the last time your child had something to eat and drink, how often the child is vomiting or experiencing diarrhea, and the last time the child went to the bathroom or the last wet diaper.
Are there doctors on call to answer questions after regular business hours?
Every medical clinic has someone to answer questions in the middle of the night or on weekends. Please contact your primary care provider to find out how to get in touch with that person for questions.