Whether you’ve got the flu or the “crud,” health officials
typically advise the same remedy – stay home.
People across the state have been knocked down by a variety of ailments
this holiday season. But pushing through and clocking in at work each
day only increases other people’s risk and can prolong symptoms.
“If you’re sick, stay home. We have a hard time with that in
this society. You’re going to spread it all over the community,”
said Shannon Clubb, Gaston County Health Department spokeswoman.
Differentiating between the flu, cold or bacterial infection isn’t
always easy without a doctor. But many flu survivors say you can tell
when you’ve got it.
“Anyone who’s had the flu will probably tell you that they
can just tell it’s something different,” Clubb said.
The flu typically comes with fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and congestion.
In most cases, even a visit to the doctor won’t offer much relief
once a person has the flu.
“More than likely the doctor is going to give you things to treat
the symptoms,” Clubb said. “Generally, if your health is good
they’re going to send you home to nurse your way through it.”
People at high risk, such as young children, the elderly and pregnant women,
may get a higher level of care.
In otherwise healthy patients, the flu can take a few days to a week to
overcome. Cases can escalate to a serious, even fatal, level.
This season, 14 people have died from the flu in North Carolina.
CaroMont Regional Medical Center saw nearly 100 positive flu cultures
in less than a month.
During last flu season from October 2011 through March 2012, the lab only
saw 11 positive cultures.
In response to the high number of flu cases, CaroMont Regional Medical
Center has temporarily restricted children 12 and younger from visiting
Anyone, of any age, with flu-like symptoms should also not visit hospital
patients at this time, hospital officials said. Some are being treated
in the emergency room for the virus and then, depending on the severity
of illness, either released or admitted.
State health officials recommend that everyone over 6 months old receive
the flu shot, available at numerous locations including doctors’
offices and pharmacies.
Shots are also given with no appointment required at the Gaston County
Health Department, 991 W. Hudson Blvd., Gastonia, and the Highland Health
Center at 609 N. Highland St., Gastonia. Flu shots cost $30 and pneumonia
shots cost $79. The health department accepts Medicaid, Medicare and some
private insurance plans. Officials remind patients to bring their insurance
cards with them, and a nasal spray vaccine is available instead of a shot.
Getting the flu shot is the best way to stave off the illness, Clubb said.
And staying home when you’re sick is the best way to keep from infecting others.
“Even if it’s not the flu, stay home, get some rest, don’t
spread it around; then jump back into your life,” she said.
You can reach reporter Diane Turbyfill at 704-869-1817 and twitter.com/GazetteDiane.
Typical flu symptoms include fever of 100 degrees or higher and any of
- Cough and/or sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Headache and/or body aches
- Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (most common in children)
Precautions to take
For those trying to ward off the flu, hospital officials encourage taking
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or a shirt sleeve when you cough
or sneeze. Dispose of the tissue in a trash receptacle after each use.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after you
cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also be effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as these areas are vehicles
for germs to enter the body.
- Avoid close contact with symptomatic individuals when possible.
- Contact your health provider or the Gaston County Health Department for
the flu vaccine.
- Drink lots of liquids and get plenty of rest.
Source: CaroMont Health
When to seek emergency medical attention?
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Purple or blue discoloration of the lips
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Severe or persistent vomiting
Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough