The Standard Journal

Don’t let the flu sideline you this fall


While much of the nation has been focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is also already flu season.

The flu virus can make you very sick, but there are things you can do to avoid it and keep from spreading it to others. Flu symptoms often include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.

What you can do

Some of this sound advice sounds familiar but it is always worth repeating.

Wash your hands often with soap or hand sanitizer. Make sure you wash the front and back, between your fingers and around your fingernail­s.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. You can become infected if you touch something that is contaminat­ed and then touch your face.

Try to avoid close contact with anyone who is sick. Also, extend the same courtesy if you are sick and keep your distance from others so you won’t infect them.

If you are sick, don’t go to work or school. If you have errands you need to run, see if someone else can help you. Self-quarantine plays a big role in not infecting others.

If you have to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sneeze into your elbow. The flu can be spread by respirator­y droplets, so anything you can do to cover your cough will help protect others. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu viruses spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk.

Keep objects clean that you touch often. That means wiping down things like your computer keyboard, doorknobs, cell phones keys and countertop­s.

Get the vaccine

During the 2019-2020 flu season, the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenzaa­ssociated medical visits, 105,000 influenza-associated hospitaliz­ations, and 6,300 influenza-associated deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contact your doctor to schedule your flu shot or if you have questions.

Effective treatments

The good news is that IF you catch the flu, it can be treated with antiviral drugs. They work best if you get treatment within 48 hours of becoming sick with flu symptoms.

Antivirals can decrease the time you are sick by about one day. They also may reduce complicati­ons such as ear infections in children, respirator­y infections and hospitaliz­ation in adults.

Flu antiviral drugs are prescripti­on medication­s that usually come the form of pills, liquid, an inhaled powder, or an intravenou­s solution. Antiviral medication­s are not sold over the counter and you have to see a health care provider to get a prescripti­ons. Do not confuse antivirals with antibiotic­s, which are used to fight bacterial infections.

People who are pregnant and children can safely take antivirals to fight the flu. Check with your doctor or pediatrici­an to find out which antivirals are right for you. Are you at risk for complicati­ons? The following is a list provided by the CDC that lists health and age factors that are known to increase the risk of suffering serious flu complicati­ons:


Neurologic and neurodevel­opment conditions

Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease)

Chronic lung diseases including COPD and cystic fibrosis)

Diabetes and other endocrine disorders Heart disease

Kidney disorders

Liver disorders

Metabolic disorders

People who are obese

People younger than 19 on long-term aspirinor salicylate-containing medication­s.

People with a weakened immune system due to HIV or AIDS, some cancers or chemothera­py or drugs that suppress the immune system

Adults 65 years and older Children younger than 2

Pregnant women and women up to 2 weeks after the end of pregnancy American Indians and Alaska Natives

People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Tifani Kinard is Administra­tor in Charge and Chief Nursing Officer at Polk Medical Center, a part of Floyd Healthcare Management.

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Tifani Kinard

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