The flu season has reached epidemic proportions in the US and in our tri-state area and everyone is cautioned to take precautions. This year, the flu is being considered as the worst outbreak in decades. Hospitals in New Jersey and in the region are being inundated with patients suffering from flu symptoms and emergency rooms are overwhelmed.
WebMD posts that ‘if we don’t take the right precautions, odds are that one in five of us will catch the flu in any given flu season.’ The flu is more than a nuisance that sends the average sufferer to bed for a week. It is a life-threatening illness for those with a weakened immune system, heart or lung disease, asthma, the very old and the very young.
According to the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 3,000 people died from the flu in 2009 and this is looking like a more wide-spread and longer flu season.
There are precautions we each should take to catching the flu. Get a flu shot if you are between 6 months to 95 years of age. Check with your doctor first to make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients in the flu vaccine. People with egg allergies should tell you physician. Don’t let fear of needles stop you; now there is an easy, inoculated nasal mist option, as well as a short-needle option that is more like a skin prick.
Stay away from people who have the flu and avoid people who are coughing or sneezing. Try not to touch a lot of public surfaces, as flu germs can be transferred from them. Wash your hands well with soap often and/or use antibacterial alcohol-based gels, especially after you have shaken someone’s hand, before and after a meal and after using items that others have touched. Don’t share drinks or food. Be sure to get plenty of sleep, exercise and eat a healthy diet. If your body is running on fumes, you are more susceptible to catching a virus.
If all fails and you feel the flu or flu-like symptoms coming on, call you doctor and get a prescription for a Tamiflu or Relenza or their generic version. Do this right away, within the first two days, as the medications are not as affective once the virus has taken hold.
Seniors should be especially careful and check with your doctor if your symptoms are severe, if you have a high temperature of 102 degrees or more for more than 24 hours, or can’t keep down fluids. Make sure you have someone to care for you to keep you hydrated with plenty of clear fluids. Seniors should not wait to go to the emergency room if you feel too ill to care for yourself or think you are dehydrated.
For more on flu and flu prevention visit www.flu.gov.