The 2012-2013 flu season is already worse than we’ve seen for
several years, and emergency department visits and hospitalizations related to
the flu are up at UPMC by at least 10 percent compared with last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
says 41 states have reported widespread flu activity with the peak of the flu
season still to come.
|Donald M. Yealy, M.D.|
So what should you do to protect yourself or to get help if you’re
already feeling those dreaded symptoms of fever, aches, cough or nausea?
First, it is not too late
to get a flu shot. This preventive measure is critical for the very young, the
elderly and pregnant women. See your doctor for the vaccine or visit an urgent
care center or pharmacy. Vaccine supplies are plentiful, and some insurance
companies cover the full cost of the shot. Contrary to a common myth, a flu shot will not
give you the flu.
Another simple thing is to remember to wash your hands often - whether you are sick or not. This remains
the best prevention against spreading or acquiring the flu and many infections.
If you feel like you are coming down with the flu, drink
fluids and rest. Most importantly, stay home if you can. The flu is
highly contagious, and you can easily infect others and delay your recovery.
Pregnant women, the
elderly, very young children and those with serious medical conditions like
kidney or heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at a higher
risk for the flu or complications – those people should seek care from their
doctor or the emergency department if feeling severe symptoms.
however, will not need a doctor when they have the flu. Drugs like Tamiflu
offer little value, and flu tests do not usually aid care. If flu symptoms persist
and start getting worse instead of better after the first three days, contact
your doctor, visit one of the UPMC Urgent Care centers or try an eVisit - an electronic doctor’s visit - on
UPMC HealthTrak. We’ve got
lots of convenient ways to take care of you, but please start by taking care of