Flu widespread in Arizona: Advice for patients, families
PHOENIX (Jan. 24, 2013) – Flu activity is now widespread in Arizona, the highest category possible. As flu activity continues to increase across the state, visits to doctors’ offices and hospitals have dramatically increased over the past few weeks.
The predominant strain of flu circulating this season is Influenza A/H1N1, the same virus that caused the 2009 pandemic. Banner Health offers the following flu preparedness advice for patients and their families.
Understand flu symptoms. Symptoms for seasonal and H1N1 flu are similar and can come on quickly. They can include: fever, sore throat, chills, body aches, cough, runny or stuffy nose, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and fatigue.
Understand when to seek medical care. For most people, the best care is to stay home, rest and drink plenty of fluids. Most recover from the flu in a few days and don’t require a visit to their health care provider. At this time of year, hospitals and urgent care centers are overcrowded with sick people, so you are advised to contact your doctor’s office first unless you are severely ill. For some people, especially those at higher risk, the flu can be more severe. Those who could be at higher risk of developing flu-related complications if they get sick include people 65 years and older, people with chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease), pregnant women and young children. Influenza can be fatal. In 2009, the H1N1 caused severe illness and even death in those less than 65 years of age and without underlying health conditions.
If you have any of the following potentially life-threatening symptoms when battling the flu, seek care immediately from your health care provider or the nearest Emergency department:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness, confusion
- Severe or persistent vomiting•
- Flu symptoms that initially improve, but then return with cough and fever.
- Infants should be taken to an Emergency department if they have bluish or gray skin color, lack of responsiveness or extreme irritability.
Protect yourself and your family. If you haven’t been sick, the flu shot can still offer your protection from the flu. Stay home when you are sick and don’t spread the virus to others. And practice common sense prevention measures:
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Use hand sanitizers
- Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough by using the crook in their elbow rather than your hands
- Wipe down all hard surfaces with disinfectant wipes.
Banner is taking measures to protect patients. The health and safety of our patients, visitors and employees is a primary concern for Banner Health. As such, all Banner Health employees, employed physicians, volunteers and students received a flu vaccination by Dec. 1, 2013. Those who were unable to receive the vaccination due to medical or religious reasons are required to wear a mask while in patient care settings during the flu season. In addition, Banner has implemented several visitor restrictions at all of its hospitals:
- Do not visit the hospital if you have a fever, cough, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Please, no visitors under the age of 13.
- Siblings who do not have cold and flu symptoms may visit a new baby on the Obstetrics Unit. Your child may be screened for illness by staff before being allowed to visit.
- Children 12 and under must be supervised by an adult at all times in public waiting areas and cafeterias.
- Please wash or sanitize your hands frequently while at the hospital.
For more information on caring for yourself and your family during flu season, visit www.BannerHealth.com/Flu. Banner also has health experts available to interview about local flu activity and provide wellness tips.
Headquartered in Phoenix, Banner Health is one of the largest, nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system manages 24 acute-care hospitals, the Banner Health Network and Banner Medical Group, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services including family clinics, home care and hospice services, and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in seven states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming.