Jan 27, 2011 8:26 PM by Dr. Anya Winslow
When it comes to the flu, the first and best line of defense for people six months and older is being vaccinated.
"The most important thing you need to be thinking about is making sure you have gotten immunized," says medical director of El Paso County Public Health Dr. Bernadette Albanese. "The whole key with flu is not to get sick in the first place."
Symptoms of flu include: fever, significant cough, headache, sore throat, extreme tiredness and significant body aches. It's different from the common cold because "cold symptoms tend to be more concentrated around the nose and the face," adds Albanese. Runny nose, sneezing, and coughing are typical symptoms of the cold.
The public health professionals say, ultimately, there is no one symptom that should send you running to the doctor; however, for adults with chronic illness, such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, knowing your baseline condition is important.
"Flu exacerbates chronic medical conditions," for example in the case of asthma "your asthma may flare up," states Albanese.
As for symptoms in children and infants that should raise concern, "Very, very rapid breathing; vomiting and diarrhea, which lead to dehydration; inability to eat or drink," are all worrisome clues exhibited by children says Albanese. Changes in your child's bathroom routine are also important to note.
If your child has difficulty breathing they can develop a "bluish discoloration around their lips and face," adds Albanese. These are all clues that indicate that you may want to seek medical advice.
"If you're sick, stay home," she states. "You are contagious when you have flu."
If you think you are in the clear and on your way to recovery Dr. Albanese advises, "The general rule that we use for flu is twenty-four hours after the fever has gone away by itself." This means that your fever broke without the need for medication.
It's still not too late to get vaccinated as "we typically peak sometime in January or February," she says. "We're pretty much in the midst of it right now."
There is no need to weather the storm during flu season, instead, weatherproof yourself from ever feeling any of the symptoms accompanied by the flu by simply getting the flu vaccine.
To date, there have been four flu-related deaths in Colorado, one of which was a teenager. El Paso County Public Health says that there have not yet been any flu-related deaths in El Paso County.