Fall is just around the corner, bringing with it cool, crisp mornings, colorful leaves and flu season.
Influenza, the flu, is a viral illness that affects the respiratory system. Symptoms typically have a rapid onset and include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose, and headache. Some experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, those who experience the last three symptoms are usually young children. Thankfully, most recover within a few days to a week from the flu, but there are those who are at a higher risk for flu associated complications. More serious complications may include pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Flue may also exacerbate (increase the severity of) chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and congestion heart failure (CHF) as well as other chronic conditions. Complication that may result in hospitalizations or death. During the 2014-2015 flue season, vaccinations prevented approximately 1.9 million influenza associated illnesses and 67,000 hospitalizations. (CDC, 2017).
What can you do?
Flu is spread by person to person contact. Someone with the flu can infect another person up to 6 feet away. Additionally, you may be able to spread the virus up to one day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after being sick. To protect yourself and your family, avoid being around others who are sick as well as washing your hands frequently with soap and water. If no soap and water are available, use alcohol based hand sanitizer. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces both at home and at work, but most importantly, get vaccinated.
Prevention is key. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends everyone aged 6 months and older should receive an annual flu shot, preferably by the end of October. This is extremely important, especially for those with chronic medical conditions, like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and COPD.
Local Pharmacies have these available now, so take advantage of the opportunity to acquire your vaccinations.