-Dr.Dianne McCallister, Chief Medical Officer at Centura's Porter Adventist Hospital
Influenza cases are on the rise in Colorado, according to the state Department of Public Health and Environment.
In fact, last week, there were an additional 85 hospitalizations raising the number this season to 244. Sadly there were also two deaths, both in children under the age of 3 in the Denver area.
- Influenza is caused by a specific virus and is characterized by:
- High fevers of 101 or more
- Dry cough Severe aching of the muscles
- Severe fatigue/malaise (which is a medical term for feeling really awful)
In the very young, the very old, those with immunodeficiency and those with heart and lung conditions, this can be very serious, leading to hospitalization.
How can you distinguish this from the common cold or other respiratory viruses?
The difference is in the severity of the symptoms - people with influenza feel terrible, and it lasts for 5 to 7 days.
Effectiveness Of The Vaccine
Every year, the experts make educated guesses on what to include in the flu shot based on the influenza being seen in Eastern Hemisphere.
This time there is one strain that showed up here unexpectedly.
For those of us who received flu shots, it means we are still open to getting the B strain that is not covered.
The important take away from this is that even if you received the vaccine, it is important that if you have symptoms of the flu, you stay at home and avoid exposing those around you.
Be particularly careful not to be around infants, those over 65 and anyone with chronic medical conditions.
Is still worth getting the flu shot?
This is an absolute yes for everyone 6 months and older - , the majority of the strains that are in the state are covered by the shot, and getting the shot will help protect not only you - but also those around you.
As parents, grandparents, and healthcare or daycare workers, it is extremely important that you get the shot to provide protection to your children and those who have chronic disease.
Remember - you are contagious for up to 24 hours before you develop symptoms and you will be spreading illness before you know you have it.
One of the best preventions is hand washing, and avoiding touching your face while in public.
If you are ill remember to cover the cough - either in your elbow or in a tissue - and stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
If you do get flu like symptoms there are anti-viral drugs that can help reduce the symptoms, so call your health care provider.
If the patient is over 65 or under 1 year of age, or has any lung/heart or other medical problems, you should consult your physician as soon as they develop any symptoms.
When should you seek emergency help?
If a child or adult is struggling to breathe, wheezing, getting dehydrated (not urinating or tenting of the skin) or if they become confused or decreased consciousness, they need to be seen in the emergency room.
Dr. McCallister is on 7NEWS at 11 a.m. every Wednesday. If you have a topic or question you would like her to discuss, email firstname.lastname@example.org .