We sat down with St. Mary's Infection Preventionist Rachel Deerwester, RN to discuss the symptoms, treatments and prevention of the flu this season.

Q. What are the best ways to prevent the flu this winter?
A. The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. Other tips include:

  • Avoid close contact.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your mouth and nose.

  • Clean your hands.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Practice other good health habits.

Q. What are some tips for protecting yourself and your loved ones at school or work?
A. There are a number of ways you can protect yourself and others this flu season:

  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.

  • Make sure your workplace or child’s school has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.

  • If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.

Q. What are the symptoms of the Flu?
A. Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever or chills

  • cough

  • sore throat

  • runny or stuffy nose

  • muscle or body aches

  • headaches

  • fatigue

Q. What are the treatments for the flu?
A. The flu is treated primarily with rest and fluid to let the body fight the infection on its own. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers may help with symptoms. If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness or are high-risk, you should go to the emergency room. Warning signs in adults include:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

  • Chest pain or abdominal pain.

  • Sudden dizziness.

  • Confusion.

  • Severe or persistent vomiting.

  • Flu-like symptoms that appear to get better, but then return with a fever and worse cough.

  • Swelling in the mouth or throat.

Warning signs in children include:

  • Bluish skin color.

  • Not drinking enough fluids.

  • Not waking up or not interacting.

  • Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held.

  • Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with a fever and worse cough.

  • Fever with a rash.

Media Contact

Andrew Dilbeck

HSHS Illinois
Office: 217-464-5610

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