In the peak of flu season, it's important to know the facts about influenza in order to keep from getting sick or getting other people sick.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States in January or February but can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. Common symptoms of the flue include fever, sore throat, runny nose, coughing, body aches and fatigue.
The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older and also that people take everyday preventative steps like staying away from sick people and washing their hands to reduce the spread of germs. It takes about two weeks for the antibodies from the vaccine to develop and help protect the body against the virus. The best thing when sick with the flu is to stay home from work or school to prevent from spreading the virus to others.
If diagnosed with the flu, there are medicines that doctors can give patients called antiviral drugs that can make the illness milder, help the person feel better faster and in many cases prevent more serious complications. Those sick with the flu or caring for someone who's sick should look out for the following emergency warning signs provided by the CDC.
What are the emergency warning signs?
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin color
Not drinking enough fluids
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Fever with a rash
In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
Being unable to eat
Has trouble breathing
Has no tears when crying
Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Severe or persistent vomiting
Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
For more information, visit www.flu.gov or new.dhh.louisiana.gov.