Flu is on the rise in South Carolina, with thousands of new cases being reported every week.
“We’re seeing a lot of flu already this year – far more than we experienced at this point over the past few years,” says Dr. Sean Nguyen, medical director of primary care at Tidelands Health and a family medicine physician at Tidelands Health Family Medicine at The Market Common. “It’s important people take steps to avoid infection and limit their risk of spreading the flu if they become ill.”
Some common flu symptoms include fever, fatigue, muscle aches and headache. You may also experience a dry cough, sore throat, a runny nose and, in some cases, vomiting and diarrhea.
Here’s are four steps to take if you catch the flu:
1. Stay home
As an airborne respiratory virus, the flu spreads easily from person to person, particularly in crowded environments like school or work. Do yourself and others a favor and stay home when you’re sick, except to seek needed medical care.
Most people with flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. If, however, you have symptoms of flu and are in a higher-risk group, or are very sick or concerned about your illness, contact your health care provider for guidance. Find a list of flu symptoms that warrant emergency attention by clicking here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends individuals with flu stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medications such as Tylenol, except to seek medical care or for other necessities.
2. Stay hydrated
You may not feel like drinking much, but it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, especially if you are vomiting or experiencing diarrhea. Water, tea and low-sugar electrolyte drinks are good options; avoid alcohol and caffeine.
Even if you don’t feel like eating, try to consume small, nutritious meals that include fruits and vegetables to fuel your fight against the flu.
4. Stop the spread
Be sure to regularly wash your hands thoroughly and cover your coughs and sneezes with your arm or directly into a disposable tissue rather than into your hands. Keep your distance from other family members or loved ones, especially those at high risk for complications for the disease, and disinfect surfaces regularly.
“When it comes to the flu, we owe it to ourselves and to our friends and families to take care of ourselves and avoid spreading the virus to others,” Dr. Nguyen says. “If you think you may be experiencing the flu, avoid the temptation to go out in public, stay home and rest and focus on getting better.”