Flu cases are on the rise

The number of influenza cases have skyrocketed nationwide in recent weeks and the numbers are similar to the 2014-2015 season, according to Darla Wilken, RN, Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital Infection Preventionist.
“We are currently experiencing a high level of activity for Influenza in our area. The 2014-2015 season was the most severe season in recent history and we are at similar levels to what we had during that season. We are also seeing a high level of “Influenza-like” illnesses such as Rhinovirus. Unfortunately we are seeing that even some people who received the vaccination are contracting Influenza.  Presently, most laboratory confirmed cases of “flu” are from Influenza A (H3N2). As the season progresses we will also see more Influenza B cases.”
Wilken said, the most common signs and symptoms of “the flu” are: fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and in some cases also include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Not everyone who gets “the flu” has a fever so please realize that even if you do not have a fever you may still be infected with Influenza.  There are also other “Influenza-like” illnesses that are common during this time of year so lab tests are done to determine if you have Influenza or a different illness.  
Wilken said: “If you are diagnosed with Influenza, antiviral medications are used in combination with measures such as rest, hydration, humidifiers, etc. to help lessen your symptoms and help you recover from the ‘flu’ virus 1 to 2 days faster.  It is important to start these medications quickly and to follow your doctor’s instructions on how and when to take your medication.  These antiviral medications can help prevent serious complications in people who are severely ill or at high risk for serious complications from ‘the flu.’”
Area health authorities are encouraging Kansans to get vaccinated, despite concerns raised nationally that the flu vaccine is not as effective against one strain of flu, the H3N2 viruses, this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention responded online to reports that the flu vaccine this year is only 10 percent effective, explaining that number being reported is an estimate from Australia’s most recent flu season relating to the H3N2 virus. Typically, the year’s flu season hits Australia before it hits the United States.
The CDC said it’s too early to estimate this year’s U.S. flu vaccine effectiveness.
In addition to getting a “flu shot” this season here are some other important preventative measures you should take every day.
• Limit contact with others if you are ill.  Do not go to work, church, shopping, etc. if you are feeling ill.
• Stay home for 24 hours after your fever has gone away.  Please remember that to be fever-free means that you are not using Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin or other medications to keep your fever down.
• If you are well and able to, limit your contact with people who are ill.
• Everywhere you go, use good hand washing or hand sanitizer gel after coming into contact with people or objects that may harbor harmful germs (such as Influenza or common “cold” viruses).• Always use a tissue (or your elbow if a tissue is not available) to cough or sneeze into and then dispose of your used tissue in a trash can.  Remember to wash your hands after you dispose of your tissue.
• Clean and disinfect items that you use that may become contaminated.  Examples:  door knobs, faucet handles, ink pens, jewelry, tools you use in your work, etc.  You should clean and disinfect these items regularly.
• It is also always a good idea to “take care of yourself”.  Do your best to be getting a good night’s sleep every night, get proper nutrition, limit the stress in your life, etc.  When you get “worn down” physically or mentally, you are more prone to “getting sick”.
Medical specialists agree that if you do experience flu-like symptoms, stay home until you’re fever -free for at least 24 hours, except to receive medical care, and remember to  limit contact with others as much as possible.
Foods to eat when fighting the flu
The healing power of nourishment and energy through foods is vital when you’re battling an intestinal virus or common cold in order to boost your immunity and give your body the energy it needs to fight off whatever illness is ailing you, particularly if you’re dealing with the flu symptoms for several days or weeks.
Here are several foods that are gentle on your body yet will help you overcome the flu:
Chicken soup
 Not only is a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup comforting at time when you’re not feeling you’re best—each bowl contains vitamins, nourishment, minerals, and hydration benefits that you can’t get from starving a cold.
According to research from Mount Sinai, in Miami, Florida, chicken soup has the ability to improve air flow and flush out mucus in the nasal passages thanks to the copious amount of hot, steamy liquid within.
Dry Toast
If you’re looking for something to accompany a bowl of chicken noodle soup, a side of dry toast will do the trick for those battling an intestinal virus or a cold. Toast is part of the popular BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast), which is often recommended by doctors for those fighting intestinal virus, as it’s gentle on the digestive system.
Crackers will also be a welcome tummy comfort and give you some energy when your stomach can’t handle much food or when you’re reintroducing food after a flu bug.
 Bananas
As mentioned, bananas are also the first food listed in the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast), often prescribed for those battling the flu because they provide energy while being gentle on a troublesome tummy.
Bananas might be the first solid food you can keep down after suffering a week of flu—including symptoms of vomiting, stomach cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. And scientists at Rutger’s University, claim bananas can get you over the hump by providing vital energy to fight the flu because they are high in vitamin B6, which provides energy, lowers stress, and helps you get a good night’s sleep.
Popsicles
Nothing is more welcome than a cold, fruit-juice packed popsicle or freezie when you’re dealing with a sore, inflamed, and raw throat. Not only will having a dozen or so icy popsicles at the ready soothe a dry, chaffed throat—the high water content will also prevent you from becoming dehydrated.
Garlic
Let’s face it; when you’re dealing with a cold or flu, you’re likely not in the best shape to be puckering up anyhow. So bring on the garlic! This powerful anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antimicrobial, and immune-boosting bulb will rev up your flu-fighting powers while relieving mucous congestion.
Green & Black Teas
There’s more to a pot of green or black tea than simply comfort of cold and flu symptoms. Research published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that drinking green and black teas while fighting a cold or flu can ease congestion, dilute mucous, and boost immunity thanks to the brew’s amazing germ-fighting antioxidant (catechin and theanine) prowess.
In fact, the NIH published findings from a Japanese study on 197 health care workers, half of which received catechin and theanine supplements while the remaining half received a placebo. Data showed that influenza infection and symptoms were significantly reduced in those who took the catechin and theanine capsule versus those who took the placebo.
Vegetable Juices
Eating your vegetables isn’t likely when you’re battling a troublesome tummy or raw throat. Let’s face it; our appetites suffer when we’re sick. However, drinking no-salt vegetable juices will ensure a boost of immune-strengthening antioxidants in easy-to-digest liquid form—particularly if you juice the blend yourself.
Juicing you own drink from a combination of 2 to 3 different fruits and vegetables will keep you hydrated without stuffing yourself full of food on a poor appetite, and ensure you stay powered with a variety of vitamins and mineral needed to fight off whatever virus ails you.