The flu season is here, and it’s not too late to take action

Along with the winter weather storms that have been steam rolling across the country so is another threat to our health, the flu. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has been reporting a big uptick in the disease in just the past couple of weeks.  The National Flu report for the week ending December 28 showed 25 states reporting widespread influenza- like- illness compared to 10 states reporting the same the week before.  And the proportion of people seeing their health care provider for influenza- like- illness was 4.3%, a significant increase and above the 2% national baseline for the 5week in a row.  The CDC is expecting these numbers to rise in the weeks to come.

Now that the flu has arrived, you may be wondering if there is anything you can really do about it? The answer is a resounding yes.

The CDC is recommending “Take 3” actions to fight the flu;

  • Get a flu shot.  That’s right. If you have not had a flu shot, it is not too late. The flu vaccine is still considered the best defense available and there does not appear to be any vaccine shortages reported. The vaccine, once given generally takes the body two weeks to develop antibodies to fight the flu.  So even though flu season has arrived, with the number of flu cases projected to increase and the fact the season can last as late as May, there is time to get protection.  The flu vaccination is recommended for any one 6 months or older.

  • Take everyday actions to help prevent the flu. I know you have heard many of these before but they are  good reminder;
    • Avoid close contact with sick people (a person with the flu is considered contagious one day before symptoms and 5 to 7 days after)
    • If you begin to feel sick at work or school go home as soon as possible
    • If you or your child is sick the recommendation is stay home for 24 hours after the fever is gone without the use of fever reducing medication
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze (the virus is believed to be spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes and Less often through touch) and then toss the tissue and wash your hands.
    • Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.  If you can’t get to water use an alcohol -based hand rub. Germs can enter the body through the eyes, nose and  mouth.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like flu, at home and your work space
  • Take flu anti-viral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. Anti-viral drugs are prescription medications that can treat the flu.  They can make your flu illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. The added benefit is they may also help people avoid complications that can develop from the flu like sinus infections or pneumonia. They are particularly helpful to people with existing health issues. The key: they work best when started within 2 days of getting sick.

With the flu season at our door, these recommendations should help you and your family stay healthy this winter.

Photo credit: FutureAtlas

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