AUGUSTA, GA. (WFXG) - Fall brings cooler temperatures and unfortunately, the flu too. Augusta University Health is taking precautions to protect patients and visitors this flu season.

When influenza cases begin to spread in Augusta, AU Health will place restrictions on hospital visits. Anyone under 18 or with an upper respiratory illness should avoid the hospital for their own safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated before the end of October.

The CDC also says in order to protect yourself, it’s important to stay away from sick people, cover coughs and wash your hands often.

Dr. Jim Wilde, an Augusta-based pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Georgia and a professor of emergency medicine at Augusta University Medical Center, says, “The best way to prevent the flu is to get the vaccine. But flu is one of many respiratory viruses that circulate in the winter,” he says. “Preventing flu, meaning influenza infection, with vaccine does nothing to protect against the other viruses, which mimic the flu. These infections are collectively called flu-like illness. The best protection against flu-like illness is to stay away from sick people. The next best protection is to stay away from large crowds during flu season.”

Symptoms include a fever of 100 degrees or higher and any of the following:

  • Cough and/or sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache and/or body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea (most common in children)

In a release from AU Health, health officials say getting the flu does not require a trip to the emergency room. Individuals who think they have the flu are advised to stay home, drink plenty of water, rest and let the virus run its course.

“People who have underlying medical problems, such as severe respiratory or immune problems, might benefit from Tamiflu if they start it within 48 hours of becoming ill. For healthy people or those who have been sick more than 48 hours, Tamiflu is not generally recommended. For them, bed rest, Tylenol and lots of fluids is the best you can do for flu,” Wilde says.

As stated on the CDC website, symptoms in adults that warrant an emergency room visit include trouble breathing, chest pain and persistent vomiting. For details about this year’s influenza virus, see the Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report.

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