December 4, 2017
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated 665 influenza viruses have been collected by U.S. laboratories as of November 18, 2017. Wisconsin got off to an early and aggressive start as there were already 19 confirmed cases of influenza as early as September. Fort HealthCare Pediatrics and primary care clinics have also been observing an increase in calls and requests for appointments to check symptoms. While the flu is a virus, and therefore not treatable with antibiotics, there are comfort measures that can be recommended. And certainly through the course of the illness, symptoms can change and you should be aware of when it is time to see a healthcare provider.
Both the CDC and The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provide downloadable fact sheets on their websites with information and what to look for (symptoms) for the common cold, influenza, ear infections, antibiotics use, immunizations, vaccines, other illnesses and conditions, as well as suggested comfort measures and guidelines for when to seek medical attention.
Fort HealthCare also provides two free searchable online health library databases on its website. One for all ages, available at: krames.forthealthcare.com, and one specifically for children and adolescents through the American Academy of Pediatrics Patient Education database at: FortHealthCare.com/AAPInfo.
From the AAP site:
Signs of the flu:
The flu can last a week or more. Your child will usually feel the worst during the first two or three days. Flu symptoms include:
Incubation and contagious periods
Is it a cold or the flu?
Both the flu and colds are caused by viruses. They can have some of the same symptoms. But there are differences.
Extra rest and lots of fluids can help your child feel better. For a child older than six months, you can give them over-the-counter acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (NOT aspirin) to bring a fever down and make them feel more comfortable. Check with your child’s doctor before giving them any other type of medicine, including cold or cough medicines. And remember, antibiotics DO NOT fight the flu.
You should contact your healthcare provider if:
For more information about comfort measures for different conditions, visit the CDC symptom relief webpage at https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/for-patients/symptom-relief.html or contact your healthcare provider for guidance.
How to prevent the flu
The flu spreads very easily, and it usually spreads during the first several days of the illness. Here are some recommended ways to reduce the spread of the flu:
The CDC recommends that the best way and most important step to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year for everyone six months of age and older. Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.
In a previous Fort HealthCare blog post, hosted on Fort HealthCare’s website, Fort HealthCare Pharmacy Director, Carl Selvick, addressed three common misconceptions about the flu vaccine:
This study was, single-handedly, the worst case of medical misinformation that our generation has witnessed. With 42 percent of reported influenza-related deaths occurring in children five year old and younger, I implore you to discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination for your children with your pediatrician or family doctor.”
Selvick concludes, “While I am not going to recommend the flu vaccine as the be-all and end-all of influenza prevention for those that may be opposed to it, I do think it is a great tool for prevention. Here at Fort HealthCare, we strive to vaccinate all of our employees to protect our patients. So again, I implore you to get vaccinated to protect those that you care about as well.”
Fort HealthCare begins administering seasonal flu shots to their patients by appointment in early fall each year. But even if you have not had a flu shot yet, the vaccine is still available, and experts encourage individuals to get their flu shot to help avoid potentially dangerous outcomes.
Fort HealthCare patients may request a flu shot by calling their primary care clinic for an appointment, or requesting one through secure messaging using the appointment request feature of the MyCompass patient portal and online medical record.
For more information, visit FortHealthCare.com/MyCompass.