Editor’s Note: We sought out a local health expert at one of the places parents can often, and not so willingly, find themselves during the dreaded cold and flu season. Soak in these helpful tips shared from Jennifer Bodenhamer, doctor of osteopathic medicine and emergency medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center, who finds herself, just as most do, at the mercy of fall and winter infections.

With cold and flu season nearly upon us, it is a great time to review ways to keep our family safe and healthy.

The most important thing you can do to prevent getting sick is practice good hand hygiene. Washing your hands with soap and water and avoidance of touching your face is paramount in illness prevention. It is amazing the things and places we touch without being aware that we are doing so.

Also, if you have a fever and are feeling ill, it is probably best that you avoid contact with others, especially the very young, very old, and anyone that may have chronic medical problems. This will help decrease the spread of illness.

Remember, a fever is an oral temperature of 100.4 or higher. Anything less than this is not considered a fever. It is important that everyone who is able to do so receive an influenza vaccine. Those at most risk of becoming seriously ill are the very young, very old and those with chronic medical problems or compromised immune systems.

Many of the illnesses that plague our families during this time come from viruses. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses, and the treatment is symptomatic.

Treatments include things such as Tylenol and Motrin for fever and pain. Remember that aspirin should never be used to treat fever in children. Over-the-counter cold remedies should not be used in children under the age of 6. Always follow the directions on the label, and if you have any question, call your doctor before administering.

If you should become unlucky and get sick, stay well-hydrated with non-caffeinated, non-carbonated beverages, avoid unnecessary contact with others and get rest.

If your symptoms worsen despite symptomatic treatment, call your doctor for an appointment. If you are unable to see your primary care doctor and you feel that you need to be seen immediately, there are two urgent care facilities in Roseburg and an emergency department.

Although we are more than happy to see you at the emergency department, please understand that we are treating emergencies on an ongoing basis, and patients are constantly being reassessed. This means that the most sick will get treated first regardless of how long anyone has been waiting.

Jennifer Bodenhamer is a D.O. and emergency medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center, while also a mother of three boys, ages 3, 9, and 12.

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