With cold and flu attacking with a vengeance this season, your only hope is to fight back. Incidences of these viruses are predicted to reach record highs in the U.S. this year, making vaccination more important than ever. Increase your front-line of defense by getting your flu shot and taking extra precautions to protect those around you.
Flu season in the U.S. starts in October, peaks December through February, and can last all the way into May. Every year cold and flu reaches epidemic levels in America during this time, but for the 2017-2018 flu season, experts are predicting record-high numbers of cold and flu. This is due in large part to Australia’s Department of Health reporting two-and-a-half times more flu cases this year than last. Their flu season precedes the U.S. and tends to be an indicator of what’s to come, both in strains of cold and flu and in occurrences. The strain of influenza currently hitting most in Australia is H3N2, and it has been primarily affecting people age eighty and older and children between five and nine. The symptoms of H3N2 tend to be more severe in the elderly and in people with illnesses that suppress their immune systems.
Why Get Vaccinated
Cold and flu is contagious and is passed easily through saliva from sneezing, coughing, and talking. A person can get a cold or flu simply by touching a surface where there are infected droplets and then touching his or her face. Since 2010 there have been as many as 35.5 million incidences of cold and flu each year and between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations. While most cases of cold and flu are not severe and resolve on their own with time, it still makes sense to be cautious and take steps to protect yourself and your family. Due to the predicted high rates of cold and flu this season, it is especially important to be proactive in preventing cold and flu. The best defense available to you is vaccination. The CDC recommends that every person age six months and older get a yearly flu shot (the nasal spray vaccine is not recommended), but getting vaccinated is especially critical for people in high-risk categories—people over the age of sixty-five, pregnant women, young children, and people with weakened immune systems from another illness. The best time to get vaccinated is in October at the beginning of flu season, however flu vaccines are generally available into January and sometimes later. When it comes to a flu shot, better late than never certainly applies, especially when you consider the season can last into the spring. While vaccination is the best course of action, it is not a guarantee against cold and flu, so maintaining good health habits is also smart. Wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes and mouth, keep your home clean and disinfected, and stay away from sick people. If you are sick, avoid going out until 24 hours after your last symptom is gone, use tissues when sneezing or coughing, and wash your hands frequently to avoid the spread of germs.
If You Do Get Sick
Most people who get sick with cold or flu do not have severe enough symptoms to warrant medical attention or prescription medication. Cold and flu viruses will generally pass in about a week, and in the meantime, home remedies and over-the-counter cold medicines can provide relief from symptoms. If you do start to experience symptoms that cause concern, or if they are lasting longer than normal, not getting better after a few days, or worsening, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
People in a high-risk category or people whose symptoms require additional treatment may be given antiviral medication to lessen symptoms, shorten the illness, and prevent more serious conditions like pneumonia. For cold and flu, time and a possible visit to the doctor are usually adequate treatment. However, there are some warning signs that rise to the level of emergency. These include difficulty breathing or not being able to catch your breath, chest pain, disorientation or sudden dizziness, violent or persistent vomiting, or a fever that won’t go down or continues to worsen. If you experience any of these, seek immediate medical attention.
If you have not yet gotten vaccinated, stop by a TrustCare location today; you do not need an appointment to get a flu shot. If you are experiencing symptoms of cold and flu and are wondering what you can do for it or if further treatment is available for you, make an appointment or come see us today and Feel Better Faster.