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Local hospitals limiting visitors because of flu

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Area hospitals are restricting visitors because of a rapid increase in flu cases.

These measures are being taken to protect patients, members of the public and hospital staff. The flu can cause serious complications and even death, especially in the very young, the elderly and those with certain existing medical conditions.

With a highly contagious flu strain spreading, patients are urged to visit their primary care doctor or nearest urgent care facility rather than going to the emergency room.

“If you think you have the flu, the best action to take is to visit your primary care doctor or an urgent care office as soon as possible,” said Dr. Robert Holcombe Jr., Medical Director, Floyd Urgent Care.

Primary care and urgent care physicians are equipped to diagnose and treat the flu, are quicker and less expensive than a trip to the ER, and by diagnosing the flu early, your doctor’s office can prescribe antiviral medication that may help shorten the severity and length of your symptoms.

Five Tips to Prevent the Flu

Dr. Holcombe offers these tips to help prevent the flu:

* Wash hands often. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. This is especially important after using the restroom, before preparing food, after being in public areas and before and after caring for a sick person.

* Stay home from work or school with any flu-like symptoms. The CDC recommends that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone, except to get medical care. This fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.

* Cover coughs or sneezes. Cough into the bend of the elbow, and cover your nose when you sneeze. If you use tissues, throw them away immediately — and then wash your hands.

* Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Touching any of these areas moves germs from the hands into the body.

* Get a flu vaccine. The flu virus will continue to circulate for weeks, so it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over the age of 6 months. This vaccine can help prevent the flu or lessen its severity. Floyd Primary Care offices and Floyd Urgent Care offices have vaccines available.

When to Go to the Emergency Room

The severity of the flu varies with each person, according to Dr. Holcombe. Those experiencing any of the following should go to the nearest hospital ER:

Difficulty breathing, difficulty waking up, dizziness, confusion, chest pain or pressure and persistent, severe vomiting.