Spectrum Health Hospital Group, Spectrum Health System
Area Hospitals and Public Health Officials Remind Community of Flu Precautions, How and When to Seek Care for Flu
January 11, 2018
As the Centers for Disease Control, or CDC, reports, flu is now widespread throughout Michigan and many surrounding states. Area hospitals, urgent care facilities and doctor offices are experiencing an increase in the number of people presenting with flu and flu-like symptoms. It is important for our community to know how to prevent flu, when to seek care and where to seek care. Although the flu shot does not always prevent the flu, it can lessen the severity and duration. There is still time to get the flu shot if you have not done so already.
WHAT IS FLU:
Influenza is a respiratory illness. It is especially harmful to children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. Common symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting
*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Area health care providers and the CDC recommend the following to avoid flu:
- Get a flu shot.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- If you are sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever/symptoms are gone and you have stopped taking fever reducers.
- Take extra precautions to stay away from children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue away after it has been used and wash your hands.
WHEN TO SEEK CARE:
Most people with flu will have a mild illness and can treat symptoms by staying home and avoiding contact with others.
If you have flu-like symptoms and are in a high risk group or are very sick, contact your health care provider, such as a doctor, physician assistant or nurse.
If you are in a high risk group, contact your health care provider early in your illness.
Seek emergency medical treatment if you experience emergency warning signs, such as:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- 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
- Fever with a rash
In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
- Being unable to eat
- Has trouble breathing
- Has no tears when crying
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
WHERE TO SEEK CARE:
Try to treat your illness at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and other products. If you are in a high risk group or cannot control symptoms, seek non-emergency care through one of the following:
- Primary care provider office
- Urgent care
- MedNow, Spectrum Health’s telemedicine option. Simply download the free MedNow app or learn more at https://www.spectrumhealth.org/patient-care/services-and-treatment-detail-pages/mednow
If you or a loved one experiences the emergency warning signs above, seek immediate care at a hospital emergency room.
EMERGENCY SERVICES: If you are experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, call 9-1-1 for immediate medical care.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Use the contact information above or go to https://www.cdc.gov/flu/
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Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system, based in West Michigan, offering a full continuum of care through the Spectrum Health Hospital Group, which is comprised of 12 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital; 180 ambulatory and service sites; 3,600 physicians and advanced practice providers, including 1,500 members of the Spectrum Health Medical Group; and Priority Health, a health plan that served 996,000 members in fiscal year 2017. Spectrum Health is West Michigan’s largest employer, with 26,000 employees. The organization provided $372 million in community benefit during its 2017 fiscal year. Spectrum Health was named one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems—and in the top five among the largest health systems—in 2017 by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM. This was the sixth time the organization received this recognition.