What to do if you get the flu
Now that school is back in session and the weather is getting cooler it is likely that cases of the flu will start to occur and spread. Flu vaccinations are available and are urged for all Americans older than 6 months. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine lowers the likelihood of contracting the flu by 70-90%. If you are one of the unlucky few that still get the flu after having been vaccinated or if you were not vaccinated and become ill it is important to know what to do and when it is necessary to seek medical attention.
First it is important to be able to confirm that what you have is actually the flu. Here are the symptoms that indicate the flu is likely:
If you do have the flu, realize that most people will be able to fight the illness without seeking medical care or antiviral drugs. If you stay home and rest you will recover. In fact it is recommended you do not go to the emergency room if you are mildly sick. The emergency room is only needed for people who are seriously ill.
Some people are at high risk for flu-related complications. This includes young children, pregnant women, elderly people, and people with medical conditions such as asthma. Seek immediate medical help if you or a loved one is having trouble breathing, has bluish skin color, a fever with a rash, persistent vomiting, or sudden dizziness.
To prevent spreading the flu to others be sure to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has disappeared without the use of medicine. In addition wash your hands often and cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue. While you are recovering get plenty of rest and drink lots of clear fluids to stay hydrated.
In some cases you may find that you aren’t sick enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room but you still need medical attention. Or you may be concerned you have a secondary infection after you flu symptoms have improved. If your primary care physician is not available remember that urgent medical care is an alternative option to the emergency room for symptoms that are not life-threatening. By visiting an urgent medical care facility you can receive same-day treatment without contributing to emergency room overcrowding. The quality of care is just as high but the wait time is often significantly shorter. The following list summarizes what can be treated in an urgent care center:
Repair of minor lacerations
Urinary tract infections
Non life-threatening flu symptoms
Stomach or back pain
At FirstCare Medical Center we New Paltz Doctors and providers who have the capability to provide:
Hopefully you are in the majority who remain healthy this flu season because the flu vaccination was effective in protecting you! If not, you know to seek medical care at an urgent medical center for non life-threatening symptoms. This will provide you the quality care you need in a shorter time and help alleviate emergency room overcrowding.