According to the CDC, flu season is from October – March with peak season from December – February but can run as late as May. Flu is spread when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk; the droplets in the air and can be spread to others up to 6 feet away. If you have the flu, it’s vital that you stay home unless absolutely necessary to ensure the health of the community. Most healthy adults can infect others 1 day before symptoms start and up to 5 – 7 days after showing symptoms. Children, elderly and the immunocompromised populations are at the highest risk for contracting the virus and may also pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Most flu infections last a week but can range depending on the person’s immune system.
The flu usually comes on suddenly, can cause very mild to severe symptoms and, though rare, has been known to lead to death. Symptoms consist of: fever/feeling feverish, cough, sore throat, congestion, body/muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, vomitting/diarrhea and weakness. Complications of the flu include pneumonia, sinus infections and/or worsening of chronic medical conditions such as heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Serious complications typically occur in the young, elderly and immunocompromised populations.
The first and most important step is prevention. Flu vaccines have been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and reduces the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization and death. Everyday preventative actions are also highly recommended such as frequent hand washing, staying away from people who are sick, and covering your cough and sneezes. Building a strong immune system is another way to protect yourself from not only the flu but other infections. To help build your immunity, sleep at least 7-9 hours a night, maintain regular physical activity and eat a healthy, nutrient dense diet while limiting sugary, fatty and junk foods. Taking a multi-vitamin may also provide support for your immune system. If someone in your home has the flu, you can reduce your risk of infection by keeping surfaces clean and disinfected. If you’re caring for this individual, wearing a surgical mask and gloves when attending to them and washing your hands after can greatly reduce your risk of contracting the virus yourself.
The flu diagnosis is typically done with a nasal swab that is then tested for the influenza virus. Your healthcare provider can also diagnose by a physical assessment. At Golden Triangle Emergency Center, we can test you for influenza A and/or B. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms Golden Triangle Emergency Center is here for you 24/7/365.
Written By: Annie Kovatch RN, BSN
ReferencesThe Flu Season. (2018, July 12). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season.htm
How to Prevent the Flu: Natural Ways, After Exposure, and More. (2018, September 18). Retrieved February 1, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/flu/how-to-prevent-flu-naturally