The flu isn’t just no fun; it can also be fatal. According to the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics, approximately fifty Catawba County citizens die every year from complications caused by influenza, commonly known as the flu. The good news is that preventing the flu is easy. At FastMed Urgent Care, we want you and your loved ones to stay safe and healthy throughout the upcoming flu season in Hickory, NC.
Of course, the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Everyone ages 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine. The flu vaccine is widely available and can be administered by shot or nasal spray, so being scared of needles is not an excuse! The vaccine is updated yearly to more effectively combat the flu strains that will be most prevalent during the upcoming season, so getting vaccinated each year is a good idea.
It is doubly important to get vaccinated if you or someone you live or work with is at a high risk of contracting influenza. High-risk individuals include children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with chronic health conditions.
If you decide against getting vaccinated, you run the risk of being one of the 5-20% of Americans who get the flu each year. You can still take everyday precautions like washing your hands; not touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; and practicing good health habits overall, but none of these are nearly as effective as getting vaccinated.
If you do catch the flu, you will know it. The symptoms of the flu are well documented, but may present in a variety of ways depending on the individual. Influenza can cause fever, chills, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, headache, fatigue, and aching muscles, and can last a few days or weeks. Severe cases can lead to prolonged hospitalization.
Influenza is a highly contagious virus that is spread via exposure to an infected person’s bodily fluids. You can even get sick by touching a surface or object that an infected person has touched. So, stay home when you are sick to avoid spreading the bug. Keep children from school for at least 24 hours after a fever has broken; they may miss the big game between Maiden and South Caldwell, but it’s worth not getting their fellow Blue Devils sick.
Someone who has the flu can transmit the virus to others one day before any symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick. Avoid sending your child back to school until his or her fever has been controlled without medication for over 24 hours.
Any unvaccinated person who comes into contact with a flu patient should consider taking one of four FDA-approved flu-fighting antiviral medications: oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), amantadine (Symmetrel), or rimantadine (Flumadine). These drugs have a 70-90% chance of preventing the flu, and the sooner they are taken, the more likely it is that the exposed person will avoid sickness.
If you can stay vigilant about everyday precautions and avoid exposure all season, more power to you, but the simplest way to stay flu-free is to get vaccinated. Protection provided by vaccination starts two weeks after inoculation and can last up to an entire year, ensuring your and your family will thrive throughout this flu season – and no one has to miss the big game.]]>