Patients Urged to Stay Home When Flu Symptoms Strike
09/16/2009

FORT WORTH, Texas — Each year, an estimated 36,000 people die from flu complications, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Based on information gathered since the H1N1 flu outbreak began in April, people younger than 25 years old appear to be sicker than other categories.

As cold and flu season begins, it is important to remember simple hand hygiene techniques are the best line of defense against infections and any form of flu.

According to the CDC, symptoms of H1N1 flu are similar to typical flu symptoms and include fever, lack of appetite and coughing. Symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhea also have been reported, according to the CDC.

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and other hospitals are not providing mass testing for the H1N1 flu and ask individuals to comply with CDC recommendations.

The CDC instructs individuals who are sick to stay at home and avoid interacting with other people until 24 hours after the fever breaks.

"This flu season is anticipated to be worse than last year," said Jessica Maack Rangel, R.N., director of patient safety and patient advocacy. "Texas Health Fort Worth has been preparing for this, and we want our community to know that we are here to help them. However, we are asking that people use our resources wisely and work with their physician to determine the best time to go to the hospital with flu symptoms."

To minimize exposure to communicable diseases, it is vital that individuals seek the appropriate level of medical care. Individuals who think they might have the H1N1 flu, particularly those who fall into a higher-risk category, should call their physician to make an appointment.

The CDC has identified the following warning signs that may need immediate medical attention:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Symptoms that improve but then worsen, along with a fever

In the meantime, the easiest ways to protect yourself from the flu is to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, often sneezing into your elbow is the most efficient way, clean your hands often, and remind children to practice healthy habits, according to the CDC.

What is the proper hand-washing technique? To ensure hands are effectively cleaned, follow these steps:

  1. Wet hands with warm water.
  2. Apply soap.
  3. Rub hands together for at least 15 seconds (sing "Happy Birthday" twice or the "ABCs.") Be sure to wash front and back of hands, between fingers, around and under fingernails.
  4. Rinse well, letting water drip off fingers, not run down arms.
  5. Dry hands with paper towel.
  6. Turn off water with paper towel. (Remember that dirty hands turned the water faucet on.)

Alcohol-based hand rubs and disinfecting wipes also may be used.

For more information about the North American flu, visit TexasHealth.org/H1N1flu.

About Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth
Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth is 724-bed, Magnet-designated regional referral center that has served the residents of Tarrant County since 1930. The hospital’s services include cardiovascular services, high-risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology, orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatal intensive care, and trauma/emergency medicine. Texas Health Fort Worth is also home to the 100-bed Texas Health Harris Methodist Heart Center. An affiliate of the faith-based, nonprofit Texas Health Resources system, Texas Health Fort Worth has more than 4,000 employees, 200 volunteers and nearly 1,000 physicians practicing on the medical staff. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org/FortWorth.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. Texas Health’s system of 14 hospitals includes Texas Health Harris Methodist, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, and Texas Health Presbyterian, and an organization for medical research and education. Texas Health Organization for Physicians and Texas Health Physicians Group provide a variety of models for engagement with physicians. Texas Health Partners is a joint venture development and management company owned by Texas Health Resources. Texas Health MedSynergies is a joint venture that offers physicians a range of office management and other business services to support their practices. Texas Health is a corporate member or partner in six additional hospitals and surgery centers. For more information, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.