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H1N1 and Seasonal Flu Update

Hospital news | Monday, October 19, 2009
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Contact: Mardi Ford

Q & A for H1N1 and Seasonal Flu

A very active flu season has come early to the community. Grande Ronde Hospital wants you to have the best information possible to protect yourself and your family.

The following information includes how to know if you have the flu, what do if you get sick, the emergency warning signs that will help you determine if you need immediate medical care and what treatments are available to help you recover.

How do you know if you have the flu?

If you have some or all of the following symptoms, you probably have the flu:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • And sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

It is important to note that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.


What should you do if you have the flu?

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms this flu season, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care. Most people with both the 2009 H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, and the seasonal influenza have had mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs.

However, some people are more likely to get flu complications. If you fall into any of the following categories, you should talk with your health care provider to determine whether you need to be examined if you have flu symptoms.

These categories are:

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children under the age of 2
  • People 65 and older
  • Pregnant women
  • People who have:
    • Cancer
    • Blood disorders (including sickle cell anemia)
    • Chronic lung disease (including COPD and asthma)
    • Diabetes
    • Heart disease
    • Kidney disorders
    • Liver disorders
    • Neurological disorders (including nervous system, brain or spinal cord)
    • Neuromuscular disorders (including muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis)
    • Weakened immune systems (including people with AIDS)

It is possible for healthy people to develop severe illness from the flu, so anyone concerned about their illness should consult their health care provider.

There are emergency warning signs. Anyone who has them should get medical care right away.


What are the emergency warning signs?

In children, the emergency warning signs are:

  • Fast breathing or trouble breathing
  • Bluish skin color
  • Not drinking enough fluids
  • Not waking up or interacting
  • Being so irritable the child does not want to be held
  • Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough
  • Fever with a rash

In adults, the emergency warning signs are:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Do you need to go to the emergency room if you are only a little sick?

NO! The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick. If you go to the emergency room and are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it. You should not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill and are not experiencing any of the emergency warning signs.

If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at a high risk of flu complications, or if you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice.

If you get sick with the flu and experience any of the emergency warning signs, then you should go to the emergency room.


Are there medicines to treat the 2009 H1N1 (swine) flu?

Yes. There are drugs your doctor may prescribe for treating both seasonal and H1N1 influenza called “antiviral” drugs. These drugs can make you feel better faster and may also prevent serious complications. This flu season, antiviral drugs are being used mainly to treat people who are very sick, such as those that must be hospitalized, and those who are more likely to develop serious flu complications.

Your health care provider will determine whether or not antiviral drugs are needed to treat your illness. Remember, most people with both 2009 H1N1 and seasonal flu have had a mild illness and have not needed medical care or antiviral drugs.


How long should I stay home if I’m sick? And what should I do?

You should stay home for at least 24-hours after your fever is gone on its own, without the use of fever-reducing medicine such as Tylenol. The only exceptions should be to get medical care or to do things you absolutely have to do that no one else can do for you. If you must go out, wear a face mask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.

Stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events and public gatherings. Wash your hands often to keep from the spreading the flu to others. Get plenty of rest and drink plenty of fluids.


Where can I go for more information?

Moregreat resources forinformation on influenza:

On the web

www.flu.oregon.gov or www.cdc.gov

By phone

Oregon State Flu Hotline at 1-800-978-3040 (live person line 24/7)

GRH informational flu-line at 962-2500 (recorded information)