SAN DIEGO, Sept. 29, 2015 — Flu season is now upon us.
Beginning in October and peaking in February, flu season has been known to persist until the month of May.
Flu is an infectious disease caused by the influenza virus, occurring in the Northern and Southern hemispheres throughout the winter months when the sun is at its lowest.
There are approximately 3 to 5 million severe cases of the flu worldwide each year, with approximately 250,000 to 500,000 associated deaths, according to Wikipedia.
It is easy to contract the flu. It can be spread through the air via coughs or sneezes and by touching flu-infected objects or surfaces.
To prevent the flu from interfering with football season, holiday activities and day-to-day life, it is critical to take measures to prevent it.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older get a flu vaccination as a primary method of preventing the flu.
Flu vaccines usually become available starting in September and come in the form of a shot or nasal spray.
According to Flu.gov, those who receive a flu vaccine are 60 percent less likely to need treatment for the flu from a health care provider.
Further, vaccines reduce the severity of the flu illness, the need for antibiotics as treatment, time lost from work and flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Side effects from having a flu vaccine are rare, but it’s possible it could cause temporary headaches, body aches, soreness at the injection site and nausea.
Those who are allergic to chicken eggs, have a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, have a current illness or have ever had a severe reaction to a prior flu vaccine need to seek counsel from a qualified health care provider to determine if it is safe to be vaccinated.
Symptoms of having the flu can be similar to those of having a cold.
Flu symptoms are more intense than merely having the sniffles and sneezes associated with the common cold, and, according to Flu.gov, may include many of the following:
- Temperature of 100 degrees or higher
- Sore throat
- Headaches and body aches
- Nausea and vomiting
If the flu is suspected and the symptoms persist or worsen, seek immediate treatment from a qualified health care provider–in some cases, an antiviral medication may be prescribed.
Getting plenty of rest is critical to beating the flu.
Staying warm and hydrated is helpful in fighting flu symptoms.
An over-the-counter pain and fever reducer, such as acetaminophen, could be useful if indicated by a qualified health care provider.
Antibiotic therapy is only used if a case of severe flu causes complications, such as a bacterial infection like pneumonia–it cannot help fight the flu virus itself.
If shortness of breath, persistent pain or vomiting or dizziness occurs, seek emergency medical attention.
Preventing the flu is highly desirable, as opposed to needing to recover from it or risk complications–it may not be as difficult as it seems!
Staving off unwanted viruses such as the flu could be as simple as taking adequate amounts of a vitamin D supplement, especially during the winter months when the sun’s rays are less powerful, potentially causing vitamin D levels in the body to plummet.
Eliminating sugar and sugar-containing products will help stop feeding most viruses, which thrive on sugar.
Maintaining overall good health by eating a well-balanced diet, keeping stress to a minimum, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly will go a long way toward preventing the onset of the flu.
Choosing to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle requires self-discipline throughout the fall and winter months, affording the very real possibility of celebrating the holidays flu-free, as well as the potential reward of having more time to enjoy them!
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized educator and expert in home and community-based, long-term care services.
In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the president and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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