Safety Tips to Combat the 2018 Flu Season | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, February 22, 2018

Loyola Flu Safety Tips to Combat the 2018 Flu Season

 
MAYWOOD, IL – With widespread flu activity across most of the U.S., avoiding exposure can be difficult, but Loyola Medicine primary care physician Mary Barsanti-Sekhar, MD, offers some advice to minimize the risk.

First off, it's not too late to get the flu shot. 

"There's still time to get the flu shot," Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar said. "The flu shot helps lessen symptoms and protects those around you as well."

Loyola Medicine continues to see a record number of flu cases and this year's flu season is expected to extend into March or April. Between January 27 and February 17, more than 2,400 patients were tested for the flu virus, with 962 positive diagnoses over the 28 days.

For the 2017-18 flu season, 1,836 cases of flu have been diagnosed at Loyola compared to 726 positive cases in 2016-17.

While Influenza A has been the bigger factor in this year's flu season, Influenza B has seen a recent increase in the area. This year's flu vaccine has been shown to be much more effective against Influenza B than Influenza A. 

When it comes to avoiding the flu, Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar said good hand hygiene is one of the best ways to keep from getting sick. 

"Washing hands with soap and water is the best option," she said. "Anti-bacteria alcohol gels are okay to use if you don't have access to soap and water. Frequent hand washing, especially after being in public places, helps lessen the chance of exposure."

Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar said there are certain items to try to avoid touching when in public, including door handles, tables, countertops and shared phones.

"Any items that are frequently being touched and not routinely being disinfected, you want to try to avoid," Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar. "And if you do touch them, be sure not to touch your mouth or face after being in contact with those items until you can wash your hands." 

Serious complications can occur from the flu for at-risk populations. Those with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, the elderly and children younger than five years old should contact their doctor if concerned about exposure.

If you do get the flu, Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar said, be sure to avoid contact with friends and family and stay home from work to avoid spreading the virus. Regularly disinfect surfaces that you are touching. 

"The best defense against the flu is to be healthy before you are exposed," she said. "Make sure you are getting enough rest, exercising and eating right."

Dr. Barsanti-Sekhar sees patients at the Loyola Outpatient Center and the Loyola Center for Health at Park Ridge.

 

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.