Botsford doctor answers flu questions

by David Walters, D.O., Chief Clinical Officer, Botsford Hospital.  Follow Dr. Walters on Twitter @BotsfordDocs
Dr. David Walters, Botsford Hospital Chief Clinical Officer

Dr. David Walters, chief clinical officer at Botsford Hospital, answers some of the most common questions he hears about the flu

As most everyone has heard this year has brought an early and relatively severe Influenza season on us. I have compiled some answers to frequently asked questions I’ve received from staff, patients and visitors.

Question 1:  How long will this flu season last?

According to CDC reports, the 2013 influenza outbreak in the U.S. is widespread with no reliable way to forecast the length or severity of the outbreak.

Question 2:  What are the symptoms of the flu?  

Flu-like symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headache, body aches, chills and fatigue.  If you have 2 or more of these symptoms, do not go to work.

Question 3:  How do I prevent the flu?

The CDC recommends 3 Actions to protect yourself and others from the flu:

1.  Get a flu vaccine.  CDC recommends annual vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older, especially health care workers, to protect against flu viruses.  Children less than 6 months of age are at high risk of serious illness from the flu, but are too young to be vaccinated.  Those who care for them should be vaccinated instead.  It’s still not too late to get your influenza vaccination and the shot doesn’t have to cause a sore arm

 2.  Stop the spread of germs

    • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever-reducing medicines). If your temperature is equal or greater than 100.6 degrees F, you should not go to work.  
    • Cover your nose/mouth with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.  Throw the tissue in the trash after use. Flu virus is spread through droplet contact from an ill person or object that has been exposed to droplet contact (for example on a doorknob, phone, etc.). Cough, without fever, is not a contraindication to work, as long as you cover your cough appropriately.  However, a cough, in addition to one or more other symptoms would indicate you stay home; such as fever, sore throat, headache, body aches, chills and fatigue.
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  Germs spread this way.
    • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated.

3.     Take antiviral medications if your doctor prescribes them

    • If you get sick with the flu, antiviral drugs may make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick, especially for those with high risk factors.
    • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotic drugs and are not available over the counter.
    • Antiviral drugs are most effective when started within 48 hours of getting sick, but starting them later may still be helpful.  Follow your doctor’s instructions.

Please share this important information with co-workers, loved ones or others who may benefit but keep in mind it does not replace the advice from your doctor.  

Thanks and stay well,

David Walters, D.O.

This entry was posted in botsford, Prevention. Bookmark the permalink.