What to Do if You Get the Flu

janice_limbaughAs of Monday, December 29, the Kent County Health Department announced that more than 800 confirmed flu cases have been reported, exceeding last year’s total of 230 at this same time.


The health department says that almost 17 percent of patients visiting local emergency rooms in the last week suffered from flu-like illness. This is the highest percentage of flu-like illness since 2009 when the H1N1 (swine flu ) swept through the county.

According to health officials the best protection from the flu is the flu vaccination.


For more information about where to get a flu vaccine visit Stick it to the Flu on Access Kent County.com

How do I know if I have the flu?

You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:


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.

What should I do if I get sick?

A flu vaccination is your best defense
A flu vaccination is your best defense

Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care.


If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your health care provider (doctor, physician’s assistant, etc.).


Certain people are at high risk of serious flu-related complications (including young children, people 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions) and this is true both for seasonal flu and novel flu virus infections. (For a full list of people at high risk of flu-related complications, see People at High Risk of Developing Flu–Related Complications). If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor. Remind them about your high risk status for flu.


Health care providers will determine whether influenza testing and treatment are needed. Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs that can treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment the sooner they are started.

Do I need to go the emergency room if I am only a little sick?

No. The emergency room should be used for people who are very sick. You should not go to the emergency room if you are only mildly ill.


If you have the emergency warning signs of flu sickness, you should go to the emergency room. If you get sick with flu symptoms and are at high risk of flu complications or you are concerned about your illness, call your health care provider for advice. If you go to the emergency room and you are not sick with the flu, you may catch it from people who do have it.

What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

In children:


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


In adults:


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

Are there medicines to treat the flu?

Yes. There are drugs your doctor may prescribe for treating the flu called “antivirals.” These drugs can make you better faster and may also prevent serious complications. See Treatment – Antiviral Drugs for more information.

How long should I stay home if I’m sick?

CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol®. You should stay home from work, school, travel, shopping, social events, and public gatherings.

What should I do while I’m sick?

Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. If you must leave home, for example to get medical care, wear a facemask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others.

The hospitals are urging visitors to follow these restrictions:

• If you are ill, don’t visit someone in the hospital.


• Only healthy visitors may visit patients in the hospitals or outpatient clinics


• Only essential visitors are allowed


• A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms:


• Fever, greater than 100.4 F


• Cough


• Sore throat


• Runny nose or congestion


• Vomiting or diarrhea


• Rash or draining sores

The hospitals recommend the following steps to avoid getting the flu:

• Get a seasonal flu vaccine


• Wash hands regularly and thoroughly.


• Avoid contact with people who have flu-like symptoms.


• Get plenty of rest and eat a balanced diet.