James: Take extra precautions to protect against fluPublished 10:09am Saturday, January 5, 2013
With cold and flu cases on the rise across the county, it’s time to take extra precautions to stay well.
Dr. John James, medical chief of staff at Russell Medical Center, said the number of flu patients visiting his office at PriCare in Alexander City this year is above average, and the season is just getting started.
A registered nurse and office manager at PriCare, Diane James said there are things you can do to avoid contracting this year’s strain of influenza.
“Wash your hands and drink lots of liquids. We say that all the time, but it does help,” James said. “And get the flu vaccine. Even though it takes 30 days for the flu shot to give you full coverage, it’s a better-late-than-never situation. The flu vaccine is not a live virus, so while you might have some side effects from it, the shot will not give you the flu.”
James said maintaining good health practices is the best defense against illness, so get plenty of rest and avoid exposure to people who may be sick.
If you do come down with symptoms – chills, body aches, fever and sometimes coughing – seek medical attention early, James said.
“This year’s flu strain seems to be hitting people fast and hard, and they are coming in within 24 hours of feeling sick,” James said.
Stay home if at all possible if you think you may have the flu, and if you just have to go to work, avoid contact with others, she said. That means covering your mouth when you cough and isolating yourself as much as possible.
“If you do have symptoms, please do not go to visit someone in a nursing home or the hospital. The elderly and those who already have lowered immunity are very susceptible,” she added.
“And if you are running a fever, it’s ok to take an over-the-counter pain reliever before seeing a doctor or nurse practioner,” she noted. “A lot of people will run a fever for two or three days before they come in and not take anything for it. That’s not always a good thing.”
Symptoms for acute sinusitis often are similar to the flu, James said, but treatments for the two are very different. “You need to come in and be tested, so we know what treatment regimen to recommend,” she said.