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Just the Flu Facts
by Carla Fallert, RN, SGCMH Infection Control
Influenza is a respiratory illness, which is spread from person to person in respiratory droplets of coughs, sneezes or even talking. You may be able to pass on the flu up to one day before flu symptoms start and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccination.

Other ways to protect you from getting the flu are—
• avoid close contact
• stay at home when you are sick
• cover your mouth or nose
• clean your hands, with soap and water or hand sanitizer
• avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
• practice good healthy habits—get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious foods

Symptoms of the flu—
• fever or feeling a fever or chills
• cough
• funny or stuffy nose
• muscle or body aches
• headaches • fatigue (tiredness)
• vomiting or diarrhea—more common in children, than adults

Some people may have some or all of these symptoms with having the flu. Most people who get the flu have mild illness and do not require medical care, but if you get very sick or are worried about your illness, contact your health care provider.

If you get the flu—
• stay home and avoid contact with other people
• rest
• drink plenty of water and other clear liquids
• treat fever and cough with over the counter medications
• if you get very sick, are pregnant, or have medical conditions that put you at risk (children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, heart disease, asthma, neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions, chronic lung disease, weakened immune system, or blood, endocrine, kidney, liver, or metabolic disorders), you may need an antiviral to treat the flu

Emergency warning signs with the flu—
In children—
• fast or trouble breathing
• bluish skin color
• not drinking enough fluids
• not waking up or interacting
• being irritable
• symptoms improve, but then return with fever and a worse cough
• fever with a rash In addition to these signs seek medical help immediately, if any infant has these signs—
• being unable to eat
• has trouble breathing
• no tears when crying
• fewer wet diapers than normal

In adults—
• difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
• pain or pressure in chest or abdomen
• sudden dizziness
• confusion
•severe or persistent vomiting
• symptoms improve, but then return with fever and worse cough

Can the flu vaccine give you the flu? NO—the flu vaccine is an inactiviated (killed) virus, which cannot cause infection. Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital highly recommends, but does not mandate, all hospital employees to get a yearly flu vaccination. SGCMH also offers the flu vaccination to the employee’s immediate family members.
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