Protecting yourself during flu season
STANDISH — The “flu” season has begun and with more and more people spreading the bug, you need to know how to protect yourself.
According to St. Mary’s of Michigan Standish Hospital (SMMSH) Safety, Security and Infection Control Coordinator Sherry Baker, the flu season is considered to be October through March, with January and February being the months with the highest risk.
Influenza (the flu) hospitalizes 226,000 people each year and kills another 36,000, says Baker.
She adds that Influenza can be described as a virus that affects the respiratory system and causes headaches, chills, fever, severe aches and pains and tiredness in addition to progressing into Pneumonia.
“The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot,” Baker said.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s web site www.cdc.gov/flu, there are two types of flu shots, the Inactivated (killed) vaccine, which is given by injection into the muscle, and the Live, attenuated (weakened) vaccine, which is sprayed into the nostrils.
Influenza viruses are always changing, so vaccines are updated each year as scientists try to match the viruses in the vaccine to those most likely to cause flu that year, the CDC says.
Baker says those most at risk are children ages six months through 18 years of age as well as anyone over 50.
“Also, people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk,” Baker said. “Anyone who is pregnant, or has long-term health problems, or anyone with certain muscle or nerve disorders is at risk as well.
The best time to receive a flu shot is in October or November as it is right before the flu season, although, vaccines given during flu season are still beneficial, Baker says.
She added that anyone who is exposed to people in public should use alcohol hand wipes or hand sanitizers and regular hand washings with soap can help prevent contamination.
Common differences between the common cold and influenza:
(according to Tamiflu)
• Fever is rare with a cold.
• A hacking, productive (mucus-producing) cough is often present with a cold.
• Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.
• Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.
• Chills are uncommon with a cold.
• Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.
• Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.
• Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.
• Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.
• Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.
• Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100 degrees of higher for three to four days is associated with the flu.
• A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).
• Sever aches and pains are common with the flu.
• Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.
• 60% of people who have the flu experience chills.
• Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.
• Sneezing is not common with the flu.
• The flu has a raid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.
• A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.
• Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.
• Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.