In preparation for what could be a busy flu season, OSF HealthCare Saint Elizabeth Medical Center is recommending the following to ease wait times and get patients to the appropriate site for care:
- Call your primary care doctor first if you feel your flu symptoms are unusually severe or if you have trouble breathing, a severe sore throat, are feeling faint, or you have a severe, chronic disease.
- PromptCare locations are available after regular office hours, and if your regular doctor is unavailable.
- If both your doctor’s office and PromptCare are closed, it’s best to call the doctor’s office and connect with the After Hours Call Center. They can direct you to the best place to receive care.
Flu symptoms include fever, sore throat, muscle and body aches, headache, fatigue, and a runny or stuffy nose.
The CDC reports that several flu activity indicators are higher right now than is typically seen this time of year. Dr. Nick Reinhart, an OSF Physician, says, “We’re starting to see more flu activity in the past two weeks. The H3N2 virus has been the most common strain we’ve seen this year. This strain is present in this year’s vaccine, but it’s not a complete match, so we are anticipating a difficult flu season.”
In addition, Dr. Reinhart says there are several steps you can take to stop the spread of germs and stay healthy:
- If you feel sick or have a fever, stay home.
- Avoid close contact with people you know are sick, and if you’re sick, limit contact with others to avoid infecting them.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow to avoid getting germs on your hands and spreading them to others.
- It’s important to take care of yourself when you have the flu by getting plenty of rest, drinking plenty of water, and taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches, pains and fever.
If you haven’t received a flu shot this season, it’s not too late. The CDC recommends everyone six months and older be vaccinated.