Recently, the popular rapper, Drake, canceled concerts in Miami, reportedly because he had the flu. At the time, it was said that he had a serious illness. This should remind all of us that the flu is a serious illness and should not be taken lightly.
On their website, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is predicting that the upcoming flu season may be “record breaking.” That is alarming, because we are already aware that annually, there are more than 140,000 people hospitalized with the flu with reported deaths of between 12,000 and 56,000!
The flu is a virus, affecting the nose, throat and lungs. Many cases of the flu are mild and, while annoying, are not life threatening. However, there can be complications, which can range from “moderate,” like painful sinus and ear infections, to “serious,” such as pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain or muscles, and even multi-organ failure.
Who is most at risk from the flu? Those who are most affected are the very young, 5 years or younger, and seniors, 65 or older. Those with weakened immune systems due to disease or medications, people who already have asthma, diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and people who suffer from blood, liver, kidney and metabolic disorders are also often more at risk.
Because it is very contagious, the flu spreads easily at work, where many of us have a lot of contact with our co-workers and other people. It is recommended that once infected, employees stay home until their fever has dropped below 100 Degrees F for at least 24 hours without the use of medication or their symptoms have gotten better. Symptoms can include a runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea and vomiting.
The CDC recommends two methods to prevent getting the flu:
- Get vaccinated by the end of October. This is especially recommended for people who have the most risk. The vaccine is safe for many of us, including pregnant women. It has been shown that the vaccination protects the baby through the few months following birth. There is more than one vaccination available for most people. High-dose shots are recommended for people over 65. Most clinics and health plans offer free flu vaccines. And the notion that the vaccine can cause the flu is a myth – it is not true.
- Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds! Wash your hands after you sneeze, cough or are near someone who is sneezing and coughing, before you eat, etc. This may seem overly simple, but a good scrubbing over your hands, fingers and under your nails is a good preventative tool.
To prevent spreading the flu, stay home until your symptoms have abated, and cough into a tissue or your elbow. And then throw the tissue into a “hands-free” wastebasket.
The flu season is serious business. Take a safety tip and get vaccinated.