By: David Moore, Volunteer Blog Writer, American Red Cross New Hampshre
I’ve got the flu. (And not the good kind I sometimes come down with just before the annual visit to grandma’s.) I accessed my Red Cross First Aid App and went down the checklist of warning signs and symptoms, and, sure enough … I’ve got the in-flu-en-za.
I don’t think I have one of those exotic strains, however, seems I’ve got a good case of the old fashioned brand … the fever and chills and body aches variety so common to the northern US this winter (CDC says this is the worse US influenza outbreak in several years). In fact, all but one Northeastern state still are reporting regional or widespread outbreaks (as of March 22, flu outbreaks are still widespread in NY, Conn, Mass and NJ).
Although CDC statistics show that new cases of influenza are down from its high point in mid-February, a significant number of cases still are being reported each week. So, despite the warming weather, the Red Cross is here to tell you (with at least one personal testimony) that it is not time to let your flu guard down just yet.
First, you should always call your doctor or healthcare provider if you think you have the flu. And you should seek immediate medical care if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Fast breathing, trouble breathing or bluish skin color.
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen (adults).
- Confusion or sudden dizziness.
- Not drinking enough fluids, not being able to eat, or severe or persistent vomiting.
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
And especially for children when:
- Not waking up, being so irritable that the child does not want to be held or not interacting.
- Fever with a rash
- No tears when crying or significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
The Red Cross also has some simple steps people can take to help prevent the spread of the flu virus:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. If a tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands.
- Wash (with soap) or sanitize hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
So, what do you do with somebody in the household who already has the flu (affectionately labeled, but not limited to, “the viral menace”)? Try some of these tips:
- Designate one person as the caregiver and have the other household members avoid close contact with that person so they won’t become sick.
- Make sure the ill person stays at home and rests until 24 hours after the fever is gone.
- Isolate the sick person or persons in separate bedroom and bath, if possible. Assign each with their own drinking glass, washcloth and towel.
- Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
- Wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.
Click here for a full list of tips.
Well, I’m heading back to the couch now where I will whine and moan and complain until I get waited on by my poor wife-nurse. Of course, I’d best take it easy on her and follow all of the above Red Cross Flu Safety Tips or she might end up as the patient and I might end up as the caregiver … which could force me to choke down a bit of my own medicine.