Take the Lead – Know the Facts – Fight the Flu
What to Expect this YearAccording to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways…the timing, severity and length of the season can vary from year to year.” However, there are already clues that the upcoming season may be especially difficult. Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere can be an indication of what’s to come in the Northern Hemisphere, and the recent flu season in Australia, where winter has just ended, arrived early and with a vengeance. A particularly virulent flu strain, H3N2, dominated. The CDC estimates that last year, there were 37 million to 43 million flu illnesses in the U.S., and 36,400 to 61,200 flu-related deaths. Last year’s flu season ran from Oct. 1, 2018, to May 4.
The Flu ShotThe best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get inoculated with the flu shot. It is often available at your neighborhood pharmacy, doctor’s office, and sometimes school or place of business for convenience. By getting one of the different types of flu vaccines available, you can protect yourself against three strains of the flu. Talk to your doctor, they will know which is best for you. If you opt against the vaccine, there is also Tamiflu (not a substitute for the vaccine), but it can help treat flu-like symptoms or lessen the severity of the flu if you do get it.
Who is at Risk?
Among the most vulnerable and at risk during flu season are seniors, children and people with chronic illnesses. If you are 65 or over, you should speak to your doctor about the recommended dose flu shot that you should have. Seniors are more susceptible because as you age, your immune system becomes weaker. Most deaths attributed to the flu occur among people 65 and older. And, if you are a senior, you should know that Medicare covers your flu shot.
Because children and infants do not have fully developed immune systems, they fall among the more at risk. Sadly, there has already been one flu-related death: a 4-year-old boy in California who had underlying health problems. If you have a child 6 months or older, ask your pediatrician about giving them the flu vaccine. If your child has a chronic ailment, consult your pediatrician as these children are at further risk because the flu can lead to more severe complications. Flu.gov reports that on average, “20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized for flu related complications each year.”
If you are a person with a chronic condition such as arthritis, asthma or cancer, getting the flu can become life threatening. It can be due in part to medication that weakens your immune system or in the case of asthma, “the flu virus can increase the inflammation of airways and lungs that can lead to pneumonia and other acute respiratory disease”, according to Flu.gov.
What to Do If You Get the Flu
To safeguard yourself from infection, or from spreading the virus if you contract it, there are a number of everyday preventative steps youcan take (courtesy of the CDC):
- Most important, if you are sick, stay home. Avoid going to work or school. Reduce other forms of contact with people.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Be sure to wash your hands often, to reduce the spread of germs.
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes and nose, as your hands are often in contact with surfaces that contain germs.
- Disinfect frequently used surfaces at home, work, and school.
There are also a few, but easy-to-follow, healthy habits that will improve your body’s ability to fight the virus:
- Get plenty of rest.
- Exercise and remain as physically active as you can.
- Avoid or manage stressful situations.
- Hydrate frequently (drink lots of fluids, especially water).
- Make sure that you eat balanced and nutritional meals.
You may not always be able to prevent the flu, but you can lessen the possibility of getting and spreading the virus when you know the facts and take appropriate counter measures.
Some good sites to visit for more information:
Don’t forget, you can use the Watertree Health Prescription Discount Card to get significant savings on many of the flu vaccines and on other prescription medicines.
Instructions and Disclaimer: The content on this website is designed for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses. Always consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your health.
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