It’s that time of year again, where we hear a lot of buzz about the Flu and Flu vaccinations. But what is the flu? What are the symptoms? What can you do to prevent it? Knowledge is power, but how can we over power something that we don’t have knowledge on? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Read on to find out what you need to know about the flu.
Influenza, What is it?
Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. The flu is highly contagious and is normally spread by the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. You can also catch the flu by touching an infected person, for instance, shaking hands. Adults are contagious 1-2 days before getting symptoms and up to 7 days after becoming ill. This means that you can spread the influenza virus before you even know you are infected.
The flu appears most frequently in winter and early spring. The flu virus attacks the body by spreading through the upper and/or lower respiratory tract. For most people, the flu resolves on its own. But sometimes, the flu and its complications can be deadly.
People at higher risk of developing flu complications include:
- Young children under age 5, and especially those under 2 years
- Adults older than age 65
- Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum
- People with weakened immune systems
- People who have chronic illnesses, such as asthma, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and diabetes
- People who are very obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.
Common flu symptoms include:
- Body or muscle aches
- Sore throat
It is recommended that you get a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against influenza and its potentially serious complications.
Other preventative measures:
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
- If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. After using a tissue, throw it in the trash and wash your hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu.
If you do end up with the flu, it’s likely that you’ll need nothing more than bed rest and plenty of fluids to treat it. But in some cases, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication. Antiviral drugs are prescriptions that fight against the flu in your body. Antiviral drugs are not sold over-the-counter. You can only get them if you have a prescription from your doctor or health care provider.
Please contact us today to find out more information on receiving your flu vaccination.