Louisiana is experiencing a higher than normal influenza (flu) season.
Per the updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)*, Ochsner Health System is following the recommended protocols at its primary care, urgent care and emergency room locations for seasonal influenza activity and antiviral treatment of patients with influenza:
- Only high-risk patients for complications related to the influenza will be treated with antiviral medication such as Tamiflu®. This includes:
- Children younger than 2 years
- Adults aged 65 years and older
- Persons with chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension alone), renal, hepatic, hematological (including sickle cell disease), and metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus), or neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions (including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy [seizure disorders], stroke, intellectual disability [mental retardation], moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury)
- People with immunosuppression, including that caused by medications or by HIV infection
- Women who are pregnant or postpartum (within 2 weeks after delivery)
- People aged younger than 19 years who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- American Indians/Alaska Natives
- People with extreme obesity (i.e., body-mass index is equal to or greater than 40)
- Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities
- Antibiotics are not effective against the influenza virus infection. If you are diagnosed with the flu, you will not be given a steroid injection as a course of treatment. Using antibiotics inappropriately can lead to antibiotic resistance and may expose patients to unwanted side effects of the drug.
Flu symptoms can include:
- Body aches
- Sore throat
Flu symptoms are usually abrupt but typically start with the first three (body aches, fever and chills) followed by cough, sore throat and congestion. This strain of the flu is expected to last two to three days. If you are not a high-risk patient, the best course of treatment is consuming lots of fluids, getting plenty of rest and taking a fever reducer or pain reliever (Tylenol, Motrin) for fever.
However, if you have the flu and experience shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, extreme weakness and passing out, seek emergency medical assistance.
If flu symptoms arise, patients can call Ochsner On Call (1-800-231-5257 or 504-842-3155), a free service with specially trained registered nurses available to discuss your health care concerns, to help you decide if your symptoms require going to the emergency room for assessment or a visit to a physician and to recommend appropriate self-care techniques.
Existing Ochsner patients can also contact their medical provider via MyOchsner, a secure online tool that allows patients to communicate with physicians, schedule online appointments, view lab and imaging results, request prescription refills and more.
Historically, January and February are peak months for the flu. It is important to still get vaccinated for the flu if you have not received a flu shot.
Remember to wash your hands frequently and cover your mouth when sneezing and coughing to help limit spreading the virus to others.
Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 30 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 80 health centers and urgent care centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across four specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs more than 18,000 employees and over 1,100 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 600 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.