Yes, believe it or not, it is flu season. My pharmacist said so, while brandishing a lethal looking needle full of anti-viral serum. In fact, this year’s flu season started in September. The timing of flu is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the U.S. in January or February. However, seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. If you’re like my husband, and keep putting offyour immunization, you could be letting yourself and your family in for a pretty miserable time.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine is designed to protect against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Getting the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available each year is always a good idea, and the protection you get from vaccination will last throughout the flu season. Keep in mind, this is not protection against a stomach virus that many people may refer to as “flu.” The vaccination is to prevent various strains of Influenza, generally defined as “a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever, severe aching, sore throat and coughing,” according to WebMD.
In addition, you can take everyday preventivesteps like staying away from sick people,washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. While we can never know how bad a flu season will be, we can do the smart thing and get a flu shot.
If you do miss your shot, here’s what you can look forward to:
- High fever
- Tiredness/ weakness
- Dry cough and sore throat
- Runny nose
- Body aches
If you are sick with flu, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home from work or school for at least 24 hours to prevent spreading influenza to others.
If you are a caregiver for someone else who has the flu, here’s what to do:
- Have the entire household, sick or well, wash their hands very frequently.
- Clean household surfaces frequently.
- Ensure all medications are taken correctly.
- Create a sick room and keep the sick person in there, without visitors.
- If you have multiple bathrooms, have the sick person use one bathroom and keep others out of it.
- When changing the sick person’s bed linen, or carrying their dirty laundry, keep you face away from the laundry and don’t hug it to your body. (Should help keep you from becoming contaminated.)
- Wash and dry the sick person’s laundry on hot.
- Dispose of all the sick person’s used tissues and etc. in the trash and take the trash out often.
- Don’t allow a person at risk for severe illness to be around or care for the sick person.
- Ask your healthcare provider if the well people should receive antiviral treatment.
Thanks to flu.gov, CDC.org, and WebMD.com.
Lee Nyberg serves seniors through her company, Home Care Assistance. Home Care Assistance is North America’s premier provider of in-home care for seniors. Our mission is to change the way the world ages. We provide older adults with the help and care that enables them to live happier, healthier lives at home. For more information about Home Care Assistance in Lincoln, visit HomeCareAssistanceLincoln.com or call 402-261-5158.