Flu Season 2018

This flu season has been exceptionally busy for our Urgent Care Departments and has caused our wait times to be longer than normal.  This is a county-wide outbreak that is affecting our clinics and hospitals.  Please be assured our Urgent Care providers and staff are working hard to keep the patient flow moving and are triaging according to symptoms with which patients are presenting. 

Pesetas Urgent Care (Santa Barbara) 215 Pesetas Lane, (805) 563-6110
HOURS
Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Lompoc Urgent Care, 1225 North H St. (805) 737-8700
HOURS
Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am - 1:00 pm
Closed Sunday (as March 2017)

Thank you for understanding and your patience during this flu season.  We wanted to share some useful information about influenza.

Q.           What should I do if I get sick?
A.            Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care or antiviral drugs. You might have the flu if you have fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.  If you get sick with flu symptoms, in most cases, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people except to get medical care, if needed. 

If you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick or worried about your illness, contact your primary care provider or visit Urgent Care.  If you are in a high risk group and develop flu symptoms, it’s best for you to contact your doctor early in your illness. Remind them about your high risk status for flu. CDC recommends that people at high risk for complications should get antiviral treatment as early as possible, because benefit is greatest if treatment is started within 2 days after illness onset.

Q.           Who is considered high risk?

A.            People at high risk of flu complications include young children, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. When used for treatment, antiviral drugs can lessen symptoms and shorten the time you are sick by 1 or 2 days. They also may prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia.

Q.        What are the emergency warning signs of flu sickness?

A.         In Adults

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

          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

In addition to the signs above, get medical help right away for any infant who has any of these signs:

  • Being unable to eat
  • Has trouble breathing
  • Has no tears when crying
  • Significantly fewer wet diapers than normal

Q.           Is there a treatment for the flu?

A.            If you get the flu, antiviral drugs may be a treatment option, especially if you are in a high risk group or have severe flu symptoms. Check with your doctor promptly if you are at high risk of serious flu complications and you get flu symptoms.  

There is a shortage of antiviral drugs this year.  We are using it judiciously to ensure we are able to treat our high risk patients throughout the season.  Most people with the flu have mild illness and can stay home, get rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Q.           Is the Flu Is Contagious?

A.            Yes-Most healthy adults may be able to infect other people beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.

Q.           What should I do while I’m sick?

A.            Stay away from others as much as possible to keep from infecting them. If you must leave home, for example to get medical care, wear a facemask if you have one, or cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash your hands often to keep from spreading flu to others.  People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

To avoid this, people should stay away from sick people and stay home if sick. It also is important to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Eating utensils can be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap and do not need to be cleaned separately. Further, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at home, work and school, especially if someone is ill.

Q.           What is the best way to protect myself from the flu?

A.            It is not too late to get a flu shot.  Vaccination against seasonal influenza is still the best way to protect yourself from the flu.  Even in years when the vaccine is considered less effective, it still affords some protection against contracting the flu.

Q.           What kinds of flu tests are there?

A.            A number of flu tests are available to detect influenza viruses in respiratory specimens. The most common are called “rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs).” RIDTs work by detecting the parts of the virus (antigens) that stimulate an immune response. These tests can provide results within approximately 10-15 minutes, and there are other flu tests called “rapid molecular assays” that detect genetic material of the virus. Rapid molecular assays produce results in 15-20 minutes.   There are several more-accurate and sensitive flu tests available that must be performed in specialized laboratories, such as those found in hospitals or state public health laboratories. All of these tests require that a health care provider swipe the inside of your nose or the back of your throat with a swab and then send the swab for testing.

Influenza is also diagnosed and treated based on symptoms and physical exams.

Find more information on preventing and treating the flu at www.cdc.gov/flu.