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Prevention, treatment play key role in controlling flu epidemic

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 1/10/2016, 8:48 p.m.
Cold and influenza season are officially here, peaking in the U.S. between December and February.

Special to The Dallas Examiner

PLANO – Cold and influenza season are officially here, peaking in the U.S. between December and February. For those who haven’t had a flu vaccination yet, it’s not too late to get one. However, those who did get vaccinated aren’t guaranteed protection from the flu, noted co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Jay Woody, M.D., of Legacy ER and Urgent Care, one of the nation’s first hybrid health care facilities that offers both urgent care and emergency room treatment options.

“Even if you’ve had the flu vaccine this season, it’s possible to become ill with a strain of flu that isn’t covered,” Woody explained. “But that shouldn’t stop one from trying to protect themselves every year. The majority of people who get flu shots won’t get the flu that season.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine annually for everyone six months and older. But that’s just the first step. Take preventative steps, such as: Stay away from people who are ill and wash your hands regularly. Touching doorknobs, faucet handles and other everyday objects we come in contact with, as well as shaking hands or eating and drinking after someone, are common ways to spread germs. Don’t go to work if you’re ill or send your children to school or day care.

People at high risk, especially, should seek treatment – children younger than two years, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. Influenza antiviral drugs are usually prescribed.

How do you know whether you have a cold or the flu? The onset of symptoms is the first clue, according to Legacy. A cold comes on gradually, while the flu hits quickly. Fever that typically lasts three or four days, aches, chills and sometimes vomiting are the primary symptoms of the flu. Where as a cold is marked by sneezing, stuffy nose and a sore throat. You may experience chest discomfort and a cough with both, in varying severity. A headache and fatigue or weakness are common with the flu but rare with a cold.

Symptoms of the flu or cold can strike or worsen at anytime, even after most clinics are closed.

“Illness doesn’t strike when it’s convenient. We have board-certified medical doctors on staff around the clock,” Woody stated.

The hybrid model still has flu vaccines available during clinic hours, between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., to help patients avoid having to take time off from work or school.

“There is no need to put off getting the flu vaccine,” Wood said.

Additionally, the CDC has a few additional steps to help prevent the spread of germs:

  1. Avoid contact with people who are sick.

  2. If you are sick, avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after your fever has subsided.

  3. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a facial tissue, then throw it in the trash.

  4. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after toileting, sneezing, blowing your nose or coughing and before preparing food, eating or caring for a wound, as well as before and after taking care of someone who is ill.

  5. Disinfect contaminated surfaces, such as door knobs, light switches, faucets and toilet handles.

  6. Wash the linens and clothes of anyone who has been ill.

  7. Avoid touching eyes and mouth.