Recognize and Prevent Illnesses

healthdepartmentRogers County Health Department is aware of the increase in illnesses in the community. The ramping up of illness during the early months of the year is not unusual. People need to make sure they are practicing prevention to reduce their risk. It is also difficult to know whether symptoms are influenza (flu), the common cold or other upper respiratory illness. Therefore, Rogers County Health Department is hoping this information is helpful in preventing illness and/or recognizing the severity of symptoms in order to seek proper and timely treatment.

Influenza, also called “the flu”, and the common cold, are both respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses with different symptoms. The term “stomach flu” is used to describe an illness with symptoms of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, but the “stomach flu” is not the same thing as influenza. The main differences between the flu and the common cold are below:

 

Symptoms Common Cold Flu
Appearance of symptoms

Appear gradually

Appear suddenly (within 3-6 hrs.)
Fever Uncommon Common (100-102+, last 3-4 days)
Chills Uncommon Common
Headache Uncommon Common
Muscle aches and pains Uncommon or mild Common-can be severe
Tired and weak Sometimes (mild) Common (moderate to severe)
Cough Common Common
Stuffy nose Common Sometimes
Sneezing Common Sometimes
Sore Throat Common Sometimes
Chest Discomfort Sometimes (mild to moderate) Common (can be severe

The treatment of both the flu and common cold are mostly the same, over the counter medications in the form of antihistamines, decongestant, pain reliever/fever reducer, rest and plenty of water. If symptoms worsen, seek medical attention and if flu symptoms appear, see a doctor as soon as possible to get the needed antiviral medicine. It is always a good idea to prepare before becoming ill by buying medications and supplies including tissues, hand sanitizer, and soups to have available if symptoms appear and helps to avoid going out in public ill. Also, it is important to make sure to replace and dispose of any expired medications.

The best thing to know and do is practice prevention, including getting an annual influenza vaccination. The flu vaccine is highly recommended and still available at the health department, physician offices, and most pharmacies in Rogers County. Other prevention methods are to use good hand hygiene by washing hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often, and cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands- to avoid spreading germs to everything and everyone you touch). Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth as germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs. Also, avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold, flu, or other illness and stay home and keep children home when sick. Going to work or school spreads germs to others and may prolong the duration of an illness. In addition, clean all surfaces touched by you and others often. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, follow the instructions exactly and finish the course of treatment, even if you feel better before you are finished with the prescription. Antibiotics only work for bacterial illnesses; they will not shorten the duration of a cold.

Other good tips for staying healthy and preventing illness include getting adequate sleep to help the body build resistance and keep the immune system strong. Drink lots of water because catching the flu becomes more likely when you are dehydrated. In addition to water, eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily as good nutrition is also a way to fight off illness.

For more information or questions, contact Rogers County Health Department at 918-341-3166 or visit their website http://rogers.health.ok.gov

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