Monday, October 07, 2013
Don’t let the flu get you
Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. According to the CDC, between the years of 1976 and 2006, flu-associated deaths in the United States ranged from 3,000 to 49,000 people.
Flu.gov reports that flu season can start as early as October, peak in January or February and last as late as May.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.
People who often have the flu may have some of the following signs and symptoms:
• Fever (not always) or feeling feverish and chills
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Feeling tired (fatigue)
• Some people may have diarrhea or vomiting (more common in children)
Flu viruses are spread by droplets when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. A person might also get the flu by touching a surface/object that has the flu virus on it then touching their mouth, eyes or nose.
Certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu. This includes people 65 years or older, young children (less than 5 years old), pregnant women and people with certain health conditions such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, heart disease, persons who live in facilities like nursing homes and healthcare professionals.
Again, the best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three influenza viruses that research suggests will be most common for the year. Flu vaccines will not protect against flu-like illnesses caused by non-influenza viruses.
In simple terms, get a flu shot and don't let the flu get you!
Lisa Cook is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Cook or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org.