Dr. Mel Roca in Council Bluffs is seeing his first cases of flu. Symptoms are similar to a cold - but it comes suddenly with high fever, stuffy nose, chills and sweats, cough, headaches, tiredness, muscle aches and pains especially on the back, arms and legs. There is no cure for the cold or the flu because they are caused by viruses. All one can do to feel better is to treat their symptoms while the body fights off the virus. Dr. Roca recommends getting plenty of rest to help the body fight infection. Stop smoking or avoid second hand smoke. Drink plenty of fluids: water, juices and homemade soups. Over-the-counter analgesics such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen are helpful for the aches and pains. For children, do not give Aspirin. Do not use any cough medicines if they are under 4 years of age.
There is anti-viral medication which are mostly reserved for severe flu symptoms and for specific ages and underlying medical conditions. Anti-virals work to shorten the course of the illness, but will not prevent other people from catching the virus. Prevention is the key to catching the cold or the flu. Wash your hands constantly and thoroughly. If you think you have the flu, stay at home until you are all better. Eat healthy, get enough sleep and exercise. The best way to prevention is to get the FLU vaccination NOW. For those who are afraid of shots, nasal spray formulations are available for ages 2 and up till age 49. See the doctor if: Flu symptoms are getting worse instead of better, there is trouble breathing, pain in the chest, sinus pain, very swollen glands in the neck or jaw or having severe or persistent vomiting.
Dr. Sindelar is sharing an important reminder as the holiday season approaches. We all need to remember to wash our hands. It sounds simple, but with friends and family gathering and little ones on the go, good, frequent hand washing is one of the easiest and most important ways to prevent the spread of illness.A good rule of thumb for duration is to sing the A,B,Cs all the way through. It’s also a good idea for parents to watch older kids wash from time to time to make sure they’re washing long enough and remembering to use soap. If soap and water aren’t available, and there’s no visible dirt, an alcohol-based sanitizer is fine to use. But, Dr. Sindelar reminds us that sanitizer shouldn’t replace hand washing all together. Another tip – consider putting paper towels or disposable hand towels in the bathroom if you are entertaining to avoid a lot of people using the same towel to dry their hands. And remember that minor illnesses in adults can be much more significant for infants. Keep some space between babies and visitors who are feeling under the weather.