Military medical treatment facilities are seeing an increase in influenza-type illness this flu season, which officially runs through May, in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.
Determining whether an illness is the flu or a bad cold can be confusing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting.
Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or prescription medication.
“The best way to prevent the spread of influenza is to stay home if you are sick, wash your hands, cover your cough and limit your exposure to others,” said Major Timothy Whoolery, Chief of Preventive Medicine at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and the Europe Regional Medical Command Consultant for Army Public Health Nursing.
Those with severe flu symptoms or are in high-risk groups may need to go to the doctor to receive antiviral therapy. LRMC has the medication Tamiflu available which will shorten the course of influenza, however, this medication is usually prescribed for those who are most at risk for severe complications.
People in high-risk groups are people with cancer, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, have had a stroke, people over 65 years old, pregnant women, people with compromised immunity, and children under five years old.
With small children, parents should take their child to a medical professional if they notice any of the following: fast or troubled breathing, bluish skin color, not drinking enough fluids, dehydration, not waking up or not interacting, irritability, fever with a rash and if the flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough.
Adults should see a medical professional if their symptoms include difficulty breathing, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting and flu-like symptoms that improve but return with fever and a worse cough.