Even though we are right in the middle of the traditional peak of flu season, recent data shows that the flu hasn't been much of a problem this year. However, if you or someone you know is one of the few who are sick, statistics mean nothing.
A typical bout with the flu is usually no more than a miserable inconvenience, but this does not mean it should be taken lightly. So what is the best way to take care of someone who is sick?
Primarily, you should be able to recognize the warning signs that something more severe is occurring. For adults, the first signs of an emergency include -- difficult or labored breathing, pain or pressure in the chest, dizziness, confusion, severe uncontrollable vomiting and bluish skin color (most notably the lips and gums). For children, the same warning signs apply, but also you will want to watch for -- an accompanying rash, lack of tears when crying, lack of normal interaction and symptoms that subside then return more severely.
Next you want to ensure proper rest. If possible, make a sick room. This would be a place that the ill can rest comfortably without being disturbed. This not only provides them a place to recover, it also quarantines them from the rest of the household and helps prevent others from getting sick. In addition, allow only one caretaker to handle any contaminated items (for example, used tissues and bedding).
One of the most important and beneficial tips is to make sure the sick are well hydrated. This not only helps the body to maintain normal function such as temperature regulation, it also helps to thin mucous and ease the clearing of secretions when coughing or blowing the nose.
Another piece of advice is to treat the symptoms. It should be noted that certain bodily reactions, such as fever, can actually be of benefit. However, if you are not trained in understanding and treating symptoms, consult a health care professional before taking any medications.
Finally, stay at home for at least 24 hours once the symptoms have subsided. While you may feel well enough to venture out and are not contagious at that point, your body is still recovering from the damage and only time and rest will be of benefit.
To get more information on this specific subject you can visit the CDC Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/whattodo.htm
You can contact the 75th Medical Group Public Health Office at (801) 586-9665.