Has the Flu Hit Yet?
It’s that time of year again when the sniffling, coughing, and body aching of flu symptoms reappear.
While the common cold will make us miserable for a few days, the dangers associated with the influenza virus are a reason for concern to us all. With flu season 2019 potentially right at our doorstep, here are tips that will come in handy to prevent the spread of influenza as well as knowing the warning signs of something more dangerous.
2018-2019 Flu Season by the Numbers
The CDC’s estimates for the last flu season, which span from October 1st, 2018 through May 4th, 2019, were more alarming than authorities initially estimated.
According to the CDC’s report:
- Total flu cases ranged between 37.4 million to 42.9 million
- There were 17.3 million to 20.1 million flu-related doctor visits
- The flu resulted in 531,000 to 647,000 hospitalizations
- Flu-related deaths were between 36,400 and 61,200
According to the latest report issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services, between September 30th, 2018, and September 26th, 2019, there were a total of 10,020 flu-related deaths in our state.
What Can We Expect For This Year’s Flu Season?
Every year medical researchers try to reduce the severity of the flu season in attempting to forecast and track the flu virus. Efforts are also made to predict which strands of the virus will be more frequent and develop vaccines to target those viruses.
However, despite everyone’s best intentions, the influenza virus is unpredictable, which means nobody knows for sure how severe this flu season will be.
Therefore, the best we can do is to protect ourselves as best we can.
Tips To Help You Protect Yourself From the Influenza Virus
Your best defense against the flu will always be to get your flu shot every year. Every year a new vaccine is released to help protect against the strains of flu experts feel will be most likely to be circulating that season.
In some cases, the vaccine may not prevent you from getting sick with the flu, but it will help to reduce the severity of the illness.
Additionally to getting vaccinated, you can protect yourself by:
- Avoid being around people who are sick. If you are the person who is ill, do everyone a favor and stay home
- Always cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
- Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer
- Regularly disinfect surfaces, especially those in high-traffic areas
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to prevent germs from entering your system
- Lead a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy meals, getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated and active
Know Where to Go in Case of an Emergency.
Risk Factors and Complications from the Flu
Over-the-counter medicines just treat symptoms. Prescription medication like Tami flu or Xofluza is only helpful if taken within 48 hrs. of first symptoms. They are a good aid in addition to rest and taking in fluids. An influenza virus left untreated may escalate into complications from the flu which can be dangerous.
Some people have a higher risk of developing complications from the flu, including:
- Infants and small children
- Pregnant Women
- Adults over the age of 65
- Anyone with a weakened immune system
Complications from the flu range from mild to life-threatening and include:
- Sinus infections
- Ear infections
- Inflammation of the heart or brain
- Inflammation of the muscles
- Organ failure
When to Go to the ER
Anyone who is a high-risk patient should contact their primary care doctor when they suspect they have the flu. Your doctor can monitor your symptoms and prescribe treatment to prevent complications.
Regardless of risk factor, anyone who develops the following symptoms should come to the nearest Altus Emergency Center for treatment:
- Persistent fever of 103°F or higher
- Trouble breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Uncontrollable vomiting
Additionally, children should be brought to our pediatric emergency ward if they:
- Are breathing fast or have trouble breathing without physical exertion
- Have a fever with a rash
- Their fingers, lips, or skin turns bluish
- Are drinking minimal amount of liquid
- Are unresponsive
Altus Emergency Centers are always ready to treat any medical emergency, including complications from the flu.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, don’t delay, seek immediate treatment at any of our facilities.