Flu First Aid
At least 22 million Americans have come down with the H1N1 swine flu
since the virus first surfaced in April and
approximately 3,900 people have died, including an estimated 540 children, federal health officials reported
The figures on pediatric
deaths underscore the existing evidence that the H1N1 swine flu poses a particular risk to children and young
adults who don't seem to have immunity to the new strain of disease. Seasonal flu, on the other hand, typically
poses a much greater risk to people aged 65 and older. The statistics released Thursday only run through
An estimated 8 million children under age 18 have
been infected by the swine flu.
An estimated 98,000 Americans have been
hospitalized by the swine flu, including 36,000 children.
Among adults, there have been 12 million cases on
infection, 53,000 hospitalizations and 2,900 deaths.
Among those 65 and older, there have been 2 million
infections, 9,000 hospitalizations and 440 deaths.
Flu Symptoms, Flu Facts
and Flu Treatment
The flu is a contagious
infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by the influenza virus.
Whether it's swine flu, bird
flu or just the plain ol' flu, the treatment is the same.
News: Statistics show
that if you are healthy when you get the flu, you're likely going to live (even if you get swine flu). The
people who get the sickest from the flu and run the risk of serious illness or death are those who had other
medical problems before they got the flu.
Lots of folks think of
vomiting and diarrhea when they hear "flu." Influenza -- aka "the flu" -- is a respiratory disease and primarily
affects the lungs, not the stomach. People can certainly feel bad enough to get nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
from the flu, especially folks with H1N1, but it's primarily a disease of the lungs.
The flu is a virus.
Antibiotics do not work on the flu (or on the common cold, for that matter). Antiviral medications like Tamiflu
can shorten the illness if they are taken early enough.
When our bodies are exposed
to the flu virus, our immune systems build antibodies to fight it. Those antibodies stay in our system and will
help fight off new exposures. That's what the flu shot does; it gives your immune system a heads-up to build
antibodies before you need them.
The flu usually begins
abruptly, with a fever between 102 and 106 °F. (An adult typically has a lower fever than a child.) The fever
usually lasts for a day or two, but can last 5 days. The flu is like a cold with a really bad attitude. The
symptoms are similar, but come on stronger for the flu:
Somewhere between day 2 and
day 4 of the illness, the "whole body" symptoms begin to subside, and respiratory symptoms begin to
The most prominent of the
respiratory symptoms is usually a dry, hacking cough. Most people also develop a sore throat and headache. Runny
nose (nasal discharge) and sneezing are common.
These symptoms (except the
cough) usually disappear within 4 - 7 days. Sometimes, the fever returns. The cough and tiredness usually last
for weeks after the rest of the illness is over.
Other symptoms may
The most common way to catch
the flu is by breathing in droplets from coughs or sneezes. Less often, it is spread when you touch a surface
such as a faucet handle or phone that has the virus on it, and then touch your own mouth, nose, or
Symptoms appear 1 - 7 days
later (usually within 2 - 3 days). Because the flu spreads through the air and is very contagious, it often
strikes a community all at once, causing an epidemic illness. This creates a cluster of school and work
absences. Many students become sick within 2 or 3 weeks of the flu's arrival in a school.
Tens of millions of people
United States get the flu each year. Most get better within a week or two, but thousands become sick enough to be
hospitalized. About 36,000 people die each year from complications of the flu.
Sometimes people confuse
colds and flu, which share some of the same symptoms and typically occur at the same time of the year. However,
the two diseases are very different. Most people get a cold several times each year, and the flu only once every
The best treatment for flu
is prevention. Talk to your doctor about whether you should get a flu shot. Vaccination may keep you from
getting the flu at all, and if you don't get sick, you can't bring the flu home to infect the rest of the people
in your home.
Mom knew her stuff when it
came to flu treatment: chicken soup, broth, juice and water are all great when you have the flu. The other thing
your body needs when it has the flu is rest. So, get lots of rest and plenty of fluids.
Most importantly, if you
have the flu you should stay away from others. Stay at home until your temperature is below 100 degrees
Fahrenheit -- without taking Tylenol or Motrin -- and then stay home another 24 hours once your fever is
Listen to public health
officials. Honor school closures and other instructions to avoid spreading the virus further.
If you do have to interact
with others, follow these tips (also directly from Mom):
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you
cough or sneeze, then throw it away (no handkerchiefs).
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water,
especially after you cough or sneeze.
If you can't wash up, alcohol-based hand cleaners
Keep your hands out of your face; touching your
eyes, nose or mouth spreads germs
The information provided on
this page should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all
medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.