What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands, with soap and warm water, that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel does not need water to work. The alcohol in the gel kills the germs on your hands.
Should I be taking extra measures, like wearing a face mask to avoid exposure?
People who are ill should wear a face mask when around others to reduce the spread of the flu virus. Public health officials do not recommend that members of the general public wear a face mask to protect against contracting flu virus. Evidence shows that this is not effective in preventing transmission of flu virus in the general population.
Remember: The face mask should be worn over the nose and mouth and tied securely to minimize any gaps between the face and the mask. Replace masks with a clean, dry mask as soon as they become damp/humid. Dispose of mask immediately upon removing.
What do I do if my roommate has a flu-like illness and cannot go home?
- Don't Panic! Illness happens. Educate and protect yourself from flu exposure.
- Avoid prolonged contact with your symptomatic roommate. The CDC recommends the person with symptoms should wear a face mask over their nose and mouth, if they can tolerate it, while in close contact with others. Encourage your sick roommate to wear a face mask when you and others are in the room. Close contact is defined as less than 6 feet.
- Frequent hand washing. Wash hands after using or touching common (shared) spaces, before touching your face, before and after using the bathroom, before eating and any other time that you feel that your hands are dirty or contaminated.
- Clean shared spaces frequently with disinfectant wipes. Germs can live on surfaces like door knobs, countertops, and handles, so wiping these surfaces often will help decrease the number of germs in your living environment.
- Support your roommate in their care and recovery.
- Eat well. Eating well-balanced meals can help boost your wellness and immunity.
- Get plenty of sleep. Generally speaking adults need 7-9 hours nightly. Being well rested can also boost your ability to fight off illness
- Know the facts. Visit the Resources page for reliable information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and others.
- If you do develop symptoms, follow self-care information and recommendations provided.
Do I need to see a doctor if I think I have the flu?
For most people, the answer is no. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people are no more likely to require medical attention due to a case of H1N1 flu than with any other flu.
However, if you are part of a group at high risk of developing serious complications from seasonal flu or you begin to have the warning signs listed below, contact your doctor and seek appropriate medical care.
Who is at higher risk for flu related complications?
Groups at higher risk for influenza related complications include: children younger than 5 years old; adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (for example, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, people with weakened immune systems, etc.) and people younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
What are the warning signs that I might need urgent medical attention?
In adults, emergency warning signs that indicate a need for urgent medical attention include:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve over a period of days, but then return with fever and worse cough.
If you, or someone you are caring for, experience any of these symptoms seek medical attention at once.
Will the seasonal flu vaccine include the H1N1 flu virus?
Yes. According to the CDC, the 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three different flu viruses including the H1N1 virus.
Who should receive a flu vaccine?
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. While it is recommended that everyone should get a flu vaccine each flu season, it’s especially important that the following groups get vaccinated either because they are at high risk of having serious flu-related complications or because they live with or care for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
If I have a family member at home who is sick with the flu, should I go to work?
Employees who are well but who have an ill family member at home with the flu can go to work as usual. These employees should monitor their health every day, and take everyday precautions including washing their hands often with soap and water, especially after they cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. If you become ill, you should notify your supervisor and stay home. Employees who have an underlying medical condition or who are pregnant should call their health care provider for advice, because they might need to receive antiviral drugs to prevent or lessen the severity of illness.
Are there medicines to treat the flu?
Yes. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs may lessen your symptoms and make you feel better faster if started within the first 48 hours of symptom onset. They may also prevent serious flu complications. The CDC recommends that antiviral drugs be reserved to treat severe flu-like illness (for example hospitalized patients) and people who are sick who have a condition that places them at high risk for serious flu-related complications.
What household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of flu virus?
To prevent the spread of flu virus it is important to keep high touch surfaces (especially tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and door handles) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with flu virus be handled?
Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid "hugging" laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry. Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.Can I get a seasonal flu shot at Aurora University?
Yes, Aurora University will again partner with the VNA of Fox Valley to provide our annual vaccination clinic on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. in Thornton Gymnasium and Thursday, October 28, 2010 from 4pm-7pm in UBH North. No appointment required. Seasonal flu shots, Pneumonia shots, Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis shots and the Meningitis shot will be available. Payment can be made by cash or check the day of the clinic.