What You Need to Know About the Flu!
Flu season is here. Millions of Americans suffer from flu illnesses every year. Early estimates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that more than 900,000 people were hospitalized and more than 80,000 people died from flu last season.
Flu season spans from October through May every year. According to the CDC, older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with long-term health conditions are at greater risk for flu complications. Anyone can be affected, though, including those who got a flu shot. So how dangerous is this flu season, really? Here's what you need to know about the symptoms, risks, and tips that can help you stay healthy.
How Dangerous is The Flu?
While the flu is common — the CDC estimates that millions of people get it every year — it's still something you should take seriously. It can land you in the hospital and even kill you. Yes, older people and young children are more likely to experience severe cases, but it's not unheard of for a generally healthy 20-something to die from the flu, as the tragic case of a 21-year-old late last year shows. This is because the flu can lead to deadly complications, including pneumonia and sepsis.
Know the Signs, and Act Fast
Even if your case doesn't require a doctor's visit, the flu is no picnic. According to the CDC, symptoms include:
runny or stuffy nose
body or muscle aches
fever, though not everyone who has the flu gets a fever
That said, you can't know for sure that you have the flu unless you take a laboratory test.
The signs of flu-related bacterial pneumonia are distinctive—you’ll usually start recovering from the flu and feeling better, before suddenly developing a new fever and getting worse again. If that happens, you should see your doctor right away or visit an emergency room, according to the CDC.
Bacterial pneumonia can often be treated with antibiotics.
Delaying treatment of bacterial pneumonia can raise your risk of becoming seriously ill, so you shouldn’t wait if you unexpectedly take a turn for the worse.
You should also visit the emergency room if you start to have trouble breathing—another emergency sign of viral or bacterial pneumonia.
Anyone who is in doubt about whether he has pneumonia should contact us immediately and ask whether he should come in to be evaluated.
Reduce Your Exposure to Bacteria
It’s a good idea to stay home if you have the flu so that you avoid spreading the infection to others. Doctors say that staying home until you feel well again can help you also protect against pneumonia. That’s because the more you’re out and about in the community, the greater the odds that you'll expose yourself to pneumococcal bacteria by getting it on your hands and touching your face.
Exposure to this pathogen when your immune system is already weakened by flu can make it easier for a bacterial infection to take hold. And though you should always be diligent about washing your hands, this is why it’s especially important to wash them frequently when you’re recovering from the flu.
Because of the damage it causes to your lungs, smoking cigarettes can also make you more likely to develop pneumonia.
It’s Time to Get Vaccinated!
Yearly flu vaccination is the most important defense against influenza and its potentially serious complications. The best time to get your flu vaccine is before flu activity begins to increase. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu.
When you are vaccinated, your body starts making antibodies that help protect you from three or four specific flu viruses; these are the virus research suggests will be most common during the upcoming season. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for the immune system to fully respond, and for these antibodies to provide protection.
There are many benefits to vaccination, including reducing your risk of flu illness, doctor’s visits, hospitalization and even death in children. Hundreds of millions of Americans safely received flu vaccines during the last 50 years, and extensive research supports the safety of flu vaccines.
Another reason to get vaccinated is to help protect others in your community, including those at high risk for serious flu complications. Get vaccinated, and encourage your family and friends to do so as well!
Do not hesitate, get your flu shot at Century Medical in Salem, MA.
Book your appointment ONLINE or give us at 978-594-8980.