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Front Page » October 21, 2008 » Carbon County News » Defensive approach, preventative measures curb health ris...
Published 2,131 days ago

Defensive approach, preventative measures curb health risks associated with flu season


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By JULENE REESE
USU Extension writer

Before the flu season hits the Castle Valley region, it is important for Carbon County residents to take precautions and be aware of the symptoms of the illness.

Utah State University Extension family and consumer sciences specialist Kathleen Riggs encourages local residents to consider the following information.

•Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.

The viral infection can cause mild to severe illness in patients

Typical symptoms of the flu include fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose and muscle aches, pointed out the USU Extension family and consumer sciences specialist.

Stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea also can occur, but are more common in children than adults.

• Flu can be especially hard on children.

One statistic from the United States Centers for Disease Control indicates that 20,000 children younger than age 5 are usually hospitalized during the flu season.

In a severe influenza season, as many as one in five children may visit the doctor's office, an emergency room or other urgent care centers for medical treatment for the illness, continued the USU Extension family and consumer sciences specialist.

•For older people and the elderly, the flu can be more serious than feeling achy and feverish for a few days, cautioned Riggs.

For patients older than the age of 65, influenza can be a serious, even deadly illness.

In fact, 90 percent of flu deaths and more than one-half of the related hospitalizations occur in people in the older age group.

•The CDC suggests that getting a vaccine each year is the best way to protect against the flu.

But there are also certain antiviral drugs that can be used as a second line of defense in the prevention and treatment of flu.

Local residents should ask doctors about the drugs or visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/takingcare.htm for information.

•Healthy people tend to recover from the flu without complications.

The best way to treat the flu is to stay away from others to avoid passing it along, get lots of rest, drink plenty of liquids and avoid using alcohol and tobacco.

•Over-the-counter medications can help relieve symptoms of the flu. But local residents should not give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly a fever.

When concerning symptoms occur, residents should not hesitate to contact a doctor, especially for small children or elderly patients, stressed the USU Extension family and consumer sciences specialist

Concerning flu symptoms in children include fast breathing, having difficulty breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, not waking up or interacting, extreme irritability and a fever with a rash.

Also of concern in younger patients are flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with a worse fever and cough.

Concerning symptoms in adult influenza patients include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion or severe or persistent vomiting.

•Additional preventive actions to alleviate the health risks associated with influenza include covering noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; discarding used tissues in trash cans; washing hands frequently with soap and warm water, especially after coughing or sneezing; and avoiding close contact with sick people

It's best to take the defensive approach and be prepared when flu season arrives, advised the USU Extension family and consumer sciences specialist

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