For the past couple years, we have had mild flu seasons, but this year is quite a different story. This flu is a dangerous strand that has been sending many people to the hospital and has caused more deaths than usual. It started spreading earlier than the flu season usually does and is already an epidemic widespread activity in 49 states; every state except Hawaii.
The H3N2 strain is the flu virus that’s making the most people sick this year. Dr. Daniel B. Jernigan from the CDC recently spoke with Good Morning America to set the facts straight about the 2017 – 2018 flu season.
“Whenever [H3N2] shows up, it causes lots of disease, lots of hospitalizations, lots of cases and lots of deaths,” Dr. Jernigan said.
We have also heard a rumor saying that the vaccine is only 10% effective. To set the record straight Dr. Jernigan said “The 10 percent is a very low estimate that came out of Australia over their season last summer. The same kind of virus that we had last year was around 30 percent to 33 percent effective for the H3 component. It’s more effective for the other parts of the vaccine that are trying to prevent the other flus circulating.”
According to Very Well, the symptoms of the flu are:
- Body aches
- A headache
- A sore throat
- A cough
- Minor Congestion
- Vomiting and Diarrhea – uncommon, occurs more frequently in children
So now that you have read the horrible symptoms, you are probably wondering what you should do, to avoid getting the flu. Here is a list of ways to keep yourself healthy this flu season.
1. Get a Vaccine
It may not be as effective as it is in some years but getting the vaccine can still offer protection. Also, if you do even catch the flu, it can make your symptoms less severe. Which means you will feel better much quicker than if you hadn’t gotten the vaccine. Most insurance companies cover the cost of the vaccine, and you can get it at most pharmacies as well as at your doctor’s office.
2. Keep Your Hands Clean
This one is essential. Wash your hands often, especially when in public places. Make sure you work the soap into a lather and use warm water.
If you have longer nails, clean them since many germs hide under the tips of our fingernails. If there is no soap or water available, then alcohol-based hand sanitizers are a good alternative.
3. Don’t Touch Your Face
It’s second nature to rub your nose or eyes if they itch or get irritated but stay aware and don’t do it if you’re out and haven’t washed your hands. Many germs enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth. This practice could keep you from catching many colds and illnesses, not just the flu.
Also, don’t share drinks with people. The flu can be contagious 24 hours before people start showing symptoms; just because they don’t look sick now, doesn’t mean that they aren’t infected.
4. Stay Home If You’re Sick
At the first sign of your symptoms, see a doctor to find out if you have the flu or not. Then, you should go home to rest and stay there until you are well again. The CDC says, “stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or other necessities. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.”
Even if you’re pretty sure it’s just a head cold, you should stay home and rest because your immune system will have to fight twice as hard if you do get exposed to the flu while you’re out.
5. Don’t Hang Out with Sick People
Close contact with someone that is or thinks they might be sick is a good way to catch it yourself. So, cancel that trip to the theatre to see the new blockbuster movie if your friend starts complaining of a fever, sore throat or headaches.
It’s best if they stay home and rest to boost their immune system and it will also keep you from catching it. You can always see the movie later after they are feeling better.
6. If A Doctor Prescribes an Antiviral Medicine, Take It
One of the main reasons it’s essential to get to the doctor quickly after symptoms first appear is that there is an antiviral medicine called Tamiflu they can prescribe. You must start the medication within the first 48 hours, but it can significantly reduce your symptoms and the length of time you will be sick. It can also clear up the infection quicker, so you aren’t contagious as long. If you or a loved one is ill and prescribed an antiviral, make sure to take it as directed.
7. Thoroughly Clean Commonly Touched Surfaces
This is especially helpful in your workplace because people might come to work while they’re sick. Make a trip to the building with a Lysol wipe and clean all the doorknobs and shared phones. It might make a world of difference in keeping the flu from spreading. If someone you live with gets sick, make sure to do some extra cleaning and disinfecting at home.
8. Stay Away from Crowded Places
Anywhere that is jam-packed with people is a likely place to contact a virus like the flu. If you’re standing in the center of a crowd watching your favorite band at a bar, you’ll most likely see some coughing and sneezing going on around you. Besides, that overly busy bartender doesn’t have time to wash their hands each time, in between making drinks and taking cash from each customer.
9. Take Care of Yourself
You may want to take a multivitamin and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep each night. WebMD says “A jog around the block a few times a week not only can do wonders for your physique, it also might prevent you from getting sick.”
So, exercising regularly and drinking plenty of water is important. All of this gives your immune system a boost.
Most of all pay attention to how you feel and go to the doctor if you start showing symptoms. This is one of the more severe flu seasons that we have seen in a while, and we are not very far along into flu season yet.
When dangerous flu is going around, it is essential to do all you can to keep from getting sick. Hopefully, these tips will help keep you healthy this winter.
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Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast