With the worst flu season the county has seen in years claiming lives across the nation Vice President of Marketing and Institutional Services for Grady Memorial Hospital John Crump has released some helpful tips for avoiding the flu.
Simple every day precautions can do wonders to help prevent contracting any strain of the flu.
"Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it," Crump said. "Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub."
Avoiding contact between hands and open areas like eyes, nose and mouth will also help.
"Germs spread this way," Crump said.
There have been 92 flu hospitalizations in Oklahoma between Jan. 2 and Jan. 8 of this year. Of those, two were admitted to Grady Memorial.
Eight people have died from the flu in Oklahoma since Sept. 30, 2012. None of these deaths were in Grady County according to Crump.
Avoiding contact with those that are ill also aides in preventing transference of the virus.
"If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities," Crump said. "Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine."
If a person should contact the virus, Crump said it's important to limit interaction with other so as to prevent spreading the flu. Antiviral drugs can also help treat the illness according to Crump.
"Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics," Crump said. "They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications."
Crump said for those that have high risk factors, treatment with an antiviral drug can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that could result in a hospital stay.
Early detection is also key to combating the flu according to Crump.
"Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within two days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the sick person has a high-risk health or is very sick from the flu," Crump said.
The best way to combat the flu is still getting a flu shot according to Crump.
"CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine when they are first available as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses," Crump said. "Vaccine can be taken at any time during the flu season but it takes two weeks for antibodies to become effective against the flu."
The Red Cross also released information yesterday regarding the flu.
"The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting someone against flu viruses," a Red Cross email reads.
Common signs of influenza are high fever, severe body aches, headache, being extremely tired, sore throat, cough, runny or stuffy nose, and vomiting and/or diarrhea (more common in children).