Seasonal influenza has arrived at Western Michigan University, and clinicians at the Health Center are seeing an influx of students with flu-like illnesses. If you are experiencing a combination of fever, chills, coughing, headache, sore throat and muscle aches you may be infected with the influenza virus.
People experiencing influenza symptoms generally do not require medical care or antiviral drugs. Important self-care steps to take toward recovery include drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and using acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever or muscle aches.
Cases of Influenza-like Illness seen at Sindecuse Health Center since November 2012:
Preventing the spread of influenza
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend actions you can take to prevent the spread of seasonal influenza:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a 60% alcohol-based hand cleaner.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
Practice good health habits, such as drinking plenty of fluids, eating nutritious food, getting plenty of sleep, being physically active and managing stress.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
While you are sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
Some people are at increased risk for complications
People in specific age categories or those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease are at greater risk of serious flu-related complications.
Individuals considered at risk for complications of influenza should see a medical provider at the onset of symptoms, as treatment with antiviral drugs may be necessary and should be started within 48 hours of becoming ill.
About seasonal influenza
The flu season can begin as early as October, normally peaks in January or February, and can last as late as May.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick.
Those infected with the flu virus often experience some or all of the following symptoms: fever, chills, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, headache, sore throat, muscle aches and fatigue.
Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, although this is more common in children than adults, and not everyone with flu will have a fever.
Important self-care recovery steps include drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and using acetaminophen or ibuprofen to reduce fever or muscle aches.
Those at greater risk of serious flu-related complications include young children, elderly people, pregnant women and people with certain long-term medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.