How to Navigate Flu Season
Flu season is almost upon us once again. In Oklahoma, it feels like flu season starts as soon as the 100 degree days stop. Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses and it can cause mild to severe illnesses, the worst of which can cause hospitalization and death.¹ Sadly, beating the flu isn’t always as easy as beating the heat. Thankfully, there are a few easy steps you can take to protect both you and your loved ones from this seasonal affliction.
Have a Preventative Mindset
The best way to prevent any problem is to take the necessary steps to avoid it all together.. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get vaccinated; the CDC recommends that everyone above six months old receive a yearly flu vaccine.¹ Vaccination is especially important for high-risk individuals: young children, pregnant women, adults above 50, patients with certain chronic health conditions (asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease), and health care professionals who work closely with these patients.² In addition to getting vaccinated, which decreases the chances of contracting flu by 40-60%, there are many ways to stay healthy during flu season:¹
Avoid contact with sick people
Wash hands often with soap and water
Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
Clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated
If you are sick, limit contact with other people
Adopt practices that encourage sick people to stay home from school/work
Be Vigilant in Seeking Treatment
It is vitally important to know the signs and symptoms of flu in order to seek and receive medication to treat or prevent the effects of the virus in you and your family.
Signs and symptoms of flu include:²
Severe body ache
Runny or stuffy nose
Vomiting and/or diarrhea
If you or a loved one starts to exhibit these symptoms near flu season, you should visit the doctor as quickly as possible. Tamiflu (oseltamivir) can decrease the severity and duration of symptoms if started within 48 hours of the onset of symptoms; it can also be used to prevent disease contraction if started within 48 hours of coming into contact with an affected individual.³ This is a great option for the families of people who get the flu, both for the individual and their loved ones. It also highlights the importance of early treatment and prevention.
Flu Prevention: Vaccination
There are many concerns that people often have about the flu and receiving vaccines. One such concern is that they can catch the flu from the vaccine. This is incorrect; the flu shot is made from an “inactivated” form of the virus and cannot be infectious.¹ The fear is understandable because people are afraid of risking their health and sometimes people do get the flu despite vaccination. Unfortunately, this is because the flu vaccine is not absolute. There are many potential strains of flu that can cause disease and vaccines tend to cover three or four strains. This is why you must get a new vaccine every year as well; the most likely strains to cause disease change with the years, and new research must be done to determine the most effective vaccine formulation. It is recommended that you receive the flu vaccine in October, but it is just as important to receive it in the following months; there are sometimes documented flu cases into April, so don’t worry about getting the vaccine too late.¹
Flu season can be a scary time that makes everyone nervous about their health. This is especially true for people with chronic health conditions and compromised immune systems. Be sure to take the steps to protect you and your family from the flu and stop problems before they happen. If you’re anywhere near Edmond, Oklahoma, come on in to Creative Care Pharmacy and we will be happy to vaccinate and address any questions or concerns you may have in the process.
¹Influenza (Flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm. Published February 9, 2018. Accessed August 15, 2018.
²Flu Safety. American Red Cross. https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/flu-safety.html. Accessed August 15, 2018.
³Oseltamivir (Lexi-Drugs). Lexicomp. http://online.lexi.com.libnet.swosu.edu/lco/action/doc/retrieve/docid/patch_f/7405. Published August 10, 2018. Accessed August 15, 2018.