Fighting Flu Season

With some experts predicting as many as half of all Americans could become sick with swine flu this fall and winter- it’s more important than ever for all of us to take preventative steps. School aged children are among those in the high risk group – and also more likely to get sick because they spend most of their day in confined space. It is more important than ever to teach children what they can do to prevent getting the virus.

Alex Kitzis, M.D., Medical Director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, had the following advice and says it all comes down to good hygiene.

Hand washing is the very best thing we all can do to help prevent spreading viruses
Cover your cough / avoid touching your face
 

What are the signs someone might have H1N1 or another virus?
- Fever AND cough or sore throat
- Runny nose or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Headache
- Chills
- Fatigue or tiredness, which can be extreme
- Diarrhea and vomiting, sometimes, but more commonly seen than with seasonal flu

If someone has these serious symptoms- should they call their doctor, make an appointment. If you think you have the flu- you should not just “show up” at your doctor’s office.

Serious swine flu symptoms that require immediate medical attention
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish or gray skin color
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

How does swine flu spread?
- Swine flu likely spreads by direct contact with respiratory secretions of someone that is sick with swine flu, like if they were coughing and sneezing close to you.
- Droplets from a cough or sneeze can also contaminate surfaces, such as a doorknob, drinking glass, or kitchen counter, although these germs likely don't survive for more than a few hours.

How long is someone contagious – if they do get swine flu?
- People with swine flu are likely contagious for one day before and up to seven days after they began to get sick with swine flu symptoms.

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