What You Need To Know About The Flu In Cincinnati This Year
Right now, cases of the flu are spreading at an average rate across Cincinnati – but without the right preventative steps, that could easily change. According to Matthew Birkle MD, TriHealth Priority Care Medical Director, “the spread of the flu started late so a spike in sickness may happen later than last year, with increases in the last few weeks of January through February.”
So, what can we do to prevent the onset of the flu right now? First, get a flu shot. Second, know the symptoms. Third, take the right steps to prevent the virus from spreading.
The most effective way to reduce the occurrence of the flu is by being vaccinated. Vaccinations usually are administered during the typical flu season, which is October through March. So, there is still time to protect yourself and others. Children as young as six months old can get the flu shot, and expecting moms can get the vaccine at any time during their pregnancy.
“By being vaccinated, you are not only protecting yourself, but you are reducing the risk of bringing the virus home to your family and others,” says Dr. Birkle. “Those at risk for more severe complications to the flu include young children and the elderly.”
Clean and Cover
Prevention also includes frequent and thorough hand washing and covering a cough or sneeze to reduce the spread of germs.
Anyone who experiences the rapid onset of symptoms like fever, body aches, and a cough should contact their family physician or a walk-in center such as TriHealth Priority Care as soon as possible.
“The flu virus presents severe symptoms much more rapidly than the common cold, which has a slow progression of symptoms,” Dr. Birkle says. “It’s important to take preventative measures and to seek treatment within 48 hours when you experience flu-like symptoms.”
Here are some of the most common flu symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Some people may have vomiting or diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
A history and examination by the Healthcare Provider, a nasal swab evaluated at TriHealth Priority Care, and a 15-minute bedside test may help determine if the flu virus is present.
There are prescription anti-viral medications that can be used to effectively shorten the duration and reduce the severity of symptoms associated with the flu. Generally, symptoms last about seven days with treatment.
Dr. Birkle suggests these important components in minimizing the spread of the flu:
- Prevention through vaccination - get your flu shot every year.
- Wash your hands often with soap, or an alcohol-based disinfectant.
- Try to avoid close contact with anyone you know who is sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Disinfect frequently touched and shared surfaces.
- Practice good health habits! Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of water and eat nutritious food.
If your physician is not available visit TriHealth Priority Care where you can be tested, treated and seen seven days a week.
Last Updated: February 29, 2016