The flu season is hitting early – the earliest in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, we are seeing several other illnesses infecting people: RSV, stomach bugs and respiratory viruses. The medical director of Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s Pediatric Emergency Department calls it “a perfect storm.”

Help Stop the Flu

Everyone plays an important role in helping to stop the spread of flu. Take these simple steps to help keep yourself, your family and our community healthy:

  • Get vaccinated. It is not too late to still get a flu shot. Click here for a list of local flu shot clinics.
  • Wash your hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing and wiping or blowing your nose.
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow or sleeve instead of your hand.
  • Use paper tissues when wiping or blowing your nose; throw tissues away after use.
  • Stay away from crowded living and sleeping spaces, if possible.
  • If you or your children are sick, stay home and avoid contact with other people to protect them from catching your illness.
  • Stay hydrated.

Tips for Clean Hands

Besides the flu shot, keep our hands clean through hand washing or the use of hand sanitizers is one of the best ways to stop the spread of flu. Here are some important tips:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. Be sure to wash wrists, palms, back of hands and under fingernails.
  • Rinse your hands well and then dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel.
  • Wash hands before preparing or eating food and after using the bathroom.
  • Use a towel to turn off the faucet and open a public restroom door. Please dispose of trash properly.
  • When using hand sanitizer, apply product to the palm of the hand, rub hands together and make sure to cover all hand surfaces including fingers until hands are dry.

Know the Symptoms

Learning the symptoms of the flu can help you catch it early and avoid long-term health problems. Flu symptoms come on quickly and are usually more severe than cold symptoms and can make you feel ill up to several weeks.

Common Signs of the Flu:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Head and body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Headache

Check with your child’s or your primary care physician if you suspect the flu. Go to the hospital if you are in respiratory distress or have a severe headache and stiff neck. The Emergency Departments at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville and Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park are here to provide emergency medical care – and fast – to our community.