Brent Ursel PA-C
Influenza, or THE FLU, has been marching across the United States in the past few months. Here in Alaska, the State Department of Epidemiology started seeing an uptick in reported cases, mostly of Influenza A, in mid December.
Over the past several days, medical facilities in Seward have been seeing an increase in the number of people with flu-like symptoms as well as confirmed Influenza. And with school back in session, this number is likely to climb rapidly.
Symptoms are typical of influenza: extreme body, joint and muscle aches; fevers to 104; chills; sweats; dry cough; headache; burning lungs; runny nose. This years flu seems to be hitting middle aged people the hardest and has resulted in several hospitalizations across the state and two confirmed deaths. Anti-viral medication can be offered to patients, but MUST be started within 48 hours of symptoms in order to be effective.
There is no cure for influenza. The influenza vaccine is the best preventative measure. Also remember what you learned (or should have learned) in Kindergarden: cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands constantly. You can check with your pharmacy or medical provider to see if they have some vaccine left.
If you experience the symptoms of the flu and it has been more than 48 hours: get lots of rest, drink lots or fluids, take tylenol and/or ibuprofen, use the cough syrup of choice, and stay home.
If you experience any difficulties breathing, wheezing, etc, you should see your primary health care provider or go to the ER. Signs of respiratory distress in the very young could include: fingers, toes or lips turning blue; flared nostrils, the skin in between the ribs getting sucked in, belly breathing, and weak crying (this list is not all inclusive).
Symptoms of the flu typically last 7-10 days. If you are unsure if you have the flu or not, you should schedule an appointment with your medical provider ASAP.