Hospital issues tips to handle the flu.

January 13, 2020

Hospital issues tips to handle the flu.

With flu spreading in west Michigan, Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital recommends residents follow some simple steps to help minimize symptoms and even avoid the flu altogether, including getting a flu shot and hand washing.

Additionally, visitors are asked to avoid going to the hospital if they are ill and all visitors are expected to be healthy, with Ludington Hospital facilities taking steps to protect patients, visitors and staff. (See warning signs for all ages, below.)

Ludington Hospital has joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health experts and is recommending the following steps to avoid the flu:

  • Get a flu shot.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Sick people should stay home for at least 24 hours after fever and symptoms are gone and the patient has stopped taking fever reducers.
  • Take extra precautions to stay away from children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue away after it has been used and wash hands.

 “Though the flu is a serious disease, people can take some common-sense precautions to minimize its spread and its impact, and Ludington hospital is proactively sharing information and taking steps to help the patients and families we serve stay safe,” said Roni Schwass, infection prevention specialist. “The more we exercise caution, care and common sense, the more we can keep ourselves, our families and the people around us a little safer as the flu begins spreading in west Michigan.” 

  Influenza is a respiratory illness that is especially harmful to children, people over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems or chronic conditions. Common symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting. Fever is another symptom, although not everyone with the flu will have a fever.

Patients can treat the flu at home with over-the-counter fever and pain reducers, cough medicine and products. Patients in high-risk groups should go to a primary care provider, convenient care or urgent care if they are not experiencing warning signs. People who are experiencing shortness of breath, numbness, facial or arm paralysis, slurred speech or other heart attack or stroke symptoms, should call 911 for immediate medical care.

  Spectrum Health’s telehealth virtual service, Spectrum Health Now, is also available as an app on smartphones.

  Michigan is among the hardest hit states for respiratory illnesses this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Respiratory illnesses, including RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), can be especially dangerous to the young, frail or elderly.

A healthy visitor is someone who does not have the following symptoms:

  • Fever, greater than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rash or draining sores
  • Only healthy visitors may visit patients in the hospitals or outpatient locations

Warning signs in children

  • 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

Warning signs in infants:

  • Similar signs as in children
  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

Warning signs in adults

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and worse cough