By Nurse Diane
Along with the holiday season...there is another season that is rapidly approaching. That is the Flu season. Flu outbreaks occur during the months of December, January and February, and those most at risk include the elderly, pregnant women and children. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
Other complications from the flu include pneumonia, bronchitis or ear infections. It can also worsen medical conditions such as asthma, and Congestive Heart Failure.
People with flu can spread it to others up to about 6 feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
According to the CDC, most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than 7 days. Symptoms start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others.
Ways to protect yourself from getting the flu is to Get the flu shot, proper hand washing, and avoid touching your eyes and mouth unless you have washed your hands.
This week is National Influenza week, a reminder to get your flu shot before an outbreak happens, not only for your own protection, but to protect those around you.