Don’t Succumb to Flu Season: How to Protect Your Family
It’s that time of year again when it seems like everyone is sick. Sniffling, nausea, fever, muscle aches, headaches and just generally wanting nothing else but to crawl into bed are all symptoms of the influenza (flu) virus.
Flu season can hit hard, but there are some among us who are more susceptible to complications of the influenza virus that could severely affect their health.
The elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those who already have a lower immune system because of a medical condition could potentially develop pneumonia from the flu. These at risk persons should immediately visit their family doctor in Birmingham, AL to receive an antiviral flu shot if they show any symptoms.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control, 3,697 people died from contracting the influenza virus in 2013.
So it’s important to protect you and your family from contracting the flu. There are a number of easy things that we can do to avoid catching the nasty bug in order to stay as healthy as possible.
Get the flu shot
The most obvious way to not catch a serious strain of the flu is to get immunized with a very common, over-the-counter vaccine. Often, clinics are set up in schools or in one’s place of work, but anyone can walk into their family doctor in Birmingham, AL to receive the vaccine.
Vaccination is recommended for everyone older than 6 months of age. It’s especially recommended for adults and caregivers who come into contact with babies under the age of 6 so that they don’t contract it and pass it along.
Numerous studies have found a positive correlation between vaccination and a reduced hospitalization rate.
- During the 2011-2012 season, a recent study found that vaccination resulted in a 71% reduction in the number of adult hospitalizations due to the flu
- From 2010-2012, vaccination also resulted in a 74% drop in admissions to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU)
In adults aged 18 and over, only 40% were vaccinated from the flu in 2013. Hence why family doctors in Birmingham, AL and clinics worldwide are promoting the flu shot for all adults.
Avoid Sick People
It may sound a little harsh, but the most obvious way to prevent yourself or your children from contracting the flu is to avoid people that already have it.
Especially if you’re concerned about your children, elderly, or pregnant family member catching it, just simply wait until your sick friend has recovered from the flu before visiting them.
If you have no other choice but to be near someone with the flu, do not face them face-to-face. If you’re holding a child with the flu, tuck their chin over your shoulder so they don’t cough face, and always sanitize the room and your hands after contact.
Wash Your Hands
Wash them often, and wash them with soap or an alcohol-based hand rub. The Centers for Disease Control recommends lathering up your hands and fingernails for approximately 20 seconds before rinsing with warm water.
Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU and author of “The Secret Life of Germs,” told ABC News that there are over 60,000 types of germs, but only 1% – 2% are harmful to healthy individuals.
However, influenza germs can be highly contagious, so make sure that you’re taking proper precautions.
Proper handwashing education has been proven to reduce the spread of cold and virus germs by 16% – 21% in the general public, and actually washing with soap could protect one out of five children under five-years-old who contract pneumonia.
Clean and disinfect areas that could transmit germs
Door handles, keyboards, any surface on public transit, money, remote controls, your cell phone, shopping carts, and elevator buttons are all some of the germiest items you could possibly encounter.
In order to prevent picking up and carrying these germs with you, you can use paper to hold open a door, or leave gloves on when touching things in public places. Or, you can simply wash your hands often, wipe down surfaces with antibacterial wipes, and don’t touch your face with dirty hands.
What do do if you do catch it
Stay home, get some rest, and drink lots of fluids. That’s it.
Going to work or anywhere other than a doctor’s office or pharmacy exposes the flu virus to more people than is absolutely necessary.
For most of us who are already healthy, the flu is a relatively mild illness and should subside within a couple days.
- If your child’s fever hasn’t gone down within 72 hours
- or is higher than 104 degrees
- If an adults fever hasn’t gone down within 3 days
- or is higher than 103 degrees
… it may be necessary to receive an antiviral shot to prevent the flu from developing into something more serious. Family doctors in Birmingham, AL, can provide an antiviral shot that can shorten the illness and lessen the effects of the flu.
It’s recommended that once you’ve recovered from your fever, you remain at home for at least another 24 hours in order to ensure that the flu has completely passed through your system. Whereas previous recommendations stated that you stop shedding the virus seven days after the first sign of symptoms, that can now last 10 days or more.
Cover your cough
Even if you no longer feel sick, you could be spreading germs into the air with every cough. It’s recommended that people recovering from the flu cover their mouth and nose with a tissue as they cough and immediately discard the tissue. This is generally good practice to keep in mind anytime you cough to be respectful of those around you.
If you’re looking for a place to get the flu shot, or are concerned about your health, Quick Care Family Medicine are family doctors in Birmingham, AL that can offer the flu vaccine or antiviral shots.