Flu bugged

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY JULIE ANDERSON
Coughing, fever, body aches?do the symptoms sound familiar?

It?s the time of year when the number of flu cases begin to rise. Although local health experts disagree whether Hillsboro has experienced more cases than usual, they do agree this year?s flu variety is harder to get over.

?It seems like it is kind of hanging on for a while,? said Teresa Regier, nurse practitioner at Hillsboro Family Practice Clinic.

Some of the doctors at the clinic have been seeing more patients than normal who are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Helen Hagen, nurse for physician Randal Claassen, said she thought they were seeing at least double the usual number of patients with the flu or similar illnesses in the past couple of weeks.

Symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough and muscle aches. People also are coming in with other complications, such as bronchitis, sinusitis and pneumonia.

Hagen said she has been seeing mostly middle-aged people who did not get a flu shot.

She added that the stream of flu sufferers does seem to be slowing down.

Hillsboro Community Medical Center also has been seeing its share of flu victims with secondary illnesses added in, according to Linda Seadeek, nurse.

HCMC has not restricted patient visitation, though.

That?s not the case at Parkside Homes, where resident visits have been restricted in the hope of preventing exposure to residents, said Jo Allen, director of nursing.

Visitors have been asked not to come to Parkside, or to postpone their visit for a week, if they are not feeling well.

Only a few residents have been sick this flu season, Allen said.

The primary impact of the flu has been the absence of staff, she said. In an effort to protect residents, staff are asked not to report for work if they are not feeling well.

Effects of the flu season have also been felt at Hillsboro schools.

Diedre Serene, school nurse, said the absentee rate wasn?t higher than normal, but students who became ill were gone for longer periods.

This also was the case at the high school, where some students missed an entire week of classes before recovering. Most students, though, missed around two days of school.

Serene said the best way to help prevent true influenza is by getting a flu shot, although it is getting late in the season for flu shots now.

Whether or not a person received a shot, they can take precautions to help keep from getting sick.

Regier said people should avoid contact with large numbers of people, wash their hands regularly and not share cups or utensils.

People also need to make sure their bodies are in the best shape possible through adequate sleep and good nutrition.

Just because people don?t show symptoms of the flu, doesn?t mean they are not contagious. Regier said the flu can be spread before people experience any symptoms.

Although everyone refers to their illness as the flu, Regier says true influenza is different from the stomach flu.

A person with true influenza will experience high fever, coughing and body aches.

To treat it, Regier said the person should drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, rest and take Tylenol or Advil for the fever.

An anti-viral medicine is available for true influenza, but it has to be started within 24 to 48 hours of getting the flu.

If a person is not getting better in a few days, he or she may want to see a doctor. Regier said she has seen fevers last up to three to four days.

Also, children or adults who are not getting enough to drink, and may suffer from dehydration, should see a doctor.

The other illness, which is often called the flu, is really stomach flu.

Symptoms experienced with the stomach flu include vomiting and diarrhea.

If a person experiences difficulty breathing or wheezing, Regier said they need to see a doctor.

Regier said a person could come down with influenza and get bacteria along with it.

Those who have been sick for several days may be battling a bacterial problem, which can be treated with antibiotics.

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