With flu season now in full swing across the nation, Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center and Conemaugh Physician Group offices are starting to see an influx of influenza cases.

“If you or a loved one begins to notice symptoms including coughing, sore throat, fever or upper respiratory symptoms, please see your primary care physician right away,” says Dr. Susan Williams, Chief Medical Officer for the Conemaugh Health System. “Early detection is especially important for young children, elderly populations, pregnant women and people with certain chronic health issues. When detected early, prescription antiviral drugs can often help treat the illness and shorten the time you are sick by one or two days.” 

“Now is the time to get a flu shot,” says Dr. Waseem, Internal Medicine physician. “It takes about two weeks after vaccination to build the antibodies that protect against the virus."

While it is still possible to contract the flu after receiving a vaccination, it is much less likely. Furthermore, studies have shown that flu vaccinations can make the illness milder for those who do get sick.  

Conemaugh Health System recommends these additional preventative measures for the public:  

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol-based
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoiding sharing food, cups or eating utensils
  • Disinfecting door knobs, light switches, children’s toys and play areas
  • Staying home from school or work if you are sick to prevent the spread of germs
  • Covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing with a tissue, your sleeve or elbow, and NOT your bare hands

For those who do contract the flu virus, it is important to limit contact with others as much as possible immediately after noticing symptoms. Stay home (or keep your child home) for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to seek medical care or for other necessities.

Patients with flu-like symptoms are encouraged to go to their primary care physician for testing and treatment. Treatment in the Emergency Room is typically not needed unless a person has more severe symptoms which include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain or severe abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Vomiting that won’t stop

With children, additional signs that emergency care is needed include:

  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Bluish color to the skin, especially the face or chest
  • Not drinking enough fluids (dehydration)
  • Difficult or unable to wake up
  • Severe irritability
  • Stiff neck
  • A severe headache that does not improve with medication
  • Fever (over 100.3) if the child is under 3 months old

For additional information about influenza, visit www.cdc.org/flu or contact the Public Health Department.