Update 1/9/17 13:44:
Due to the increased risk of cold and flu viruses this winter, Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and Valley West Hospital are implementing flu visitor restrictions to protect the health of patients.
Family and visitors who are experiencing a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, body aches or congestion, even those who have been vaccinated for the flu, should refrain from seeing an inpatient or accompanying a patient to an appointment at an outpatient clinic. While flu season is at its peak, visitors will be limited to two per patient and those under the age of 18 will not be permitted to visit patients in the hospital.
Symptomatic patients who are coming to the hospital for appointments should let their healthcare provider know about symptoms and wear a mask. Masks are available at provider offices, as well flu kiosks located throughout the hospital.
If you do get the flu, emergency care should not be necessary unless you become seriously ill. Contact your primary healthcare provider to determine whether you should be tested and treated for the flu. However, if you are at high-risk for complications, you should contact your doctor or seek medical care as soon as you notice symptoms.
It is not too late to get a flu shot. Vaccinations can and should continue throughout the flu season into January and beyond. While seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time seasonal flu activity peaks in January or later.
The seasonal flu has hit DeKalb County big time. Our local hospital has published the following post on their Facebook page:
Due to increased patient volumes, expect extended wait times in the Kishwaukee Hospital Emergency Department. If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider to determine appropriate testing and treatment for flu. For more information on when to seek medical care please visit flu.nm.org.
According to Northwestern Medicine’s website, “Flu (influenza) is caused by one of several strains of viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. Flu-like symptoms make life miserable for a week or two for many people, but they can be deadly for some. In a typical year, the seasonal flu affects between 5 and 20 percent of the population in the United States, and about 36,000 people die from complications of the flu. Flu season can begin as early as October and peak anywhere from late December to early April.”
Often the best course of action is to stay home and ride out the flu symptoms. The following advice was found on an ER group on Facebook:
1.) You CAN get the flu even if you received the flu vaccine
2.) You have a virus with a course of 7-14 days during which you are going to feel like you want to die; you may/will have fever, chills, severe headache, sore throat, chest congestion, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, sore throat, severe weakness/lethargy, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea and severe body/joint aches
3.) Go to your primary care doctor or urgent care FIRST, but know there is little they can do to help you; the only thing they can help you with is medication for severe coughing unresponsive to over the counter medications or severe diarrhea/vomiting. You do not need antibiotics unless you develop a secondary lung infection.
4.) DON’T come to the ER unless you have shortness of breath, you cannot keep down fluids for 24 hours or have persistent liquid stools accompanied by dizziness, fast heart rate or low blood pressure
5.) Tamiflu is an antiviral drug that is found to be mostly ineffective, and comes with significant side effects and price tag (OP’s opinion..not mine. I believe in Tamiflu)
6.) DO take Tylenol AND Advil/Motrin/Aleve at MAX doses (unless contraindicated by health issues) to alleviate fever, headache and body aches
7.) DO take over-the-counter flu remedies. Be careful taking combinations of different medications to avoid overdosing and overtreating (for example, some flu medicines already have Tylenol (Acetaminophen) in them)
8.) Use home remedies such as “hot toddies” (whiskey/lemon/honey FOR ADULTS ONLY), hot showers, vapor rubs, vapor humidifiers, essential oils, etc.
9.) Drink TONS of fluids! Hot liquids and soups may be helpful. Try to maintain nutritious intake. Milk products may thicken mucus and worsen coughs.
10.) A rule of thumb about coughing-if it’s productive, DO NOT suppress it with meds; if it’s non-productive, DO suppress it (but make sure you’re properly hydrated or your cough will be dry and more prolonged). Elevate your head when you sleep to decrease coughing/secretions.
11.) PLAN AHEAD–stock up now on necessary medications, juices and drinks, soups, popsicles, and broth so you’ll be ready. This time of year it is not unusual to find store shelves empty. You won’t want to go shopping when you or a loved one is sick.
12.) DO NOT GO OUT IN PUBLIC FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!! An older person or someone in poor health or with respiratory disease can die from the flu you pass on to them! Do not send a child with a fever to school during flu season.