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.
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
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.