Editor's note: The following is a press release issued by the American Lung Association.
Influenza activity continues to increase in the United States, with most of the country now experiencing high levels of influenza-like-illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) weekly flu report.
The American Lung Association strongly recommends that consumers protect themselves by getting a flu vaccine and taking preventive action to stop the spread of germs. Those who do get severely ill, especially people in high risk groups, should seek antiviral treatment as soon as possible.
“We can’t emphasize enough how important it is and how easy it is to provide your family with as much protection as possible by getting vaccinated against the flu,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in Illinois. “Immunization is especially important for those at higher risk – young children, pregnant women, those who are 50 years of age or older, people with certain chronic medical conditions including asthma, COPD and heart disease and healthcare workers and caregivers who are in close contact with those at high risk.”
The American Lung Association also encourages everyone to take preventive action to help prevent the spread of the disease, including:
- Cover nose and mouth with tissue when sneezing or coughing and throw away the tissue after use.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth, where germs spread easily.
- Wash hands often with soap and water.
- If you’re feeling sick, stay home from work, school and public places, so you don’t infect others.
Influenza is a highly contagious upper respiratory illness that can include some or all of the following symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.
Most people who contract the flu will have a relatively mild case and will not need to see a healthcare provider for antiviral treatment. However, if you experience severe symptoms and are worried about your illness or are among those at higher risk, visit your healthcare provider, who can determine whether influenza testing or treatment are needed.
The following are warning signs that influenza has worsened and medical attention is needed.
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
- Fever with a rash
In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:
- Being unable to eat
- Having trouble breathing
- Having no tears when crying
- Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough
The CDC, along with the support of leading health experts, recommends that everyone six months of age and older be immunized. Find out more at www.facesofinfluenza.org or call the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNG-USA to find out where you can get immunized against the flu.