Winter is here! With an earlier than expected winter season upon us in Michigan, it’s important to keep preventive health care at the top of your list. This list starts with thinking about the seasonal flu. Millions of people get the flu each year. It can be mild or severe and can even kill you.
Flu is listed as an immunization that should be received annually on preventive care lists for children, adolescents and adults. Children younger than 5 years old, adults over 65, pregnant women, chronic disease patients, people who are immunocompromised, nursing home residents and long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable.
The flu is linked to between 3000 and 49,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalization each year in the United States. Pretty scary statistics. The flu vaccine was created to try and stop this epidemic.
There are 3 types of flu with Influenza A being the one constantly changing from year to year and being the worse. Different strains of the flu mutate over time and that’s why there is a different vaccination every year so your body can develop immunity to the most recent strain of the virus.
It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between the cold and the flu because they share many of the same symptoms. See the chart below to compare.
But one thing is certain and that is the flu can be a lot worse than having a simple cold. It comes on fast and furious and can cause serious health problems.
Like a cold, the flu is spread by tiny droplets when people sneeze, talk or cough. It is also spread by touching a surface or object with the flu virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
Complications of the flu can include:
· Bacterial pneumonia
· Sinus infections
· Worsening of chronic medical conditions (congestive heart failure, heart disease, diabetes)
The key to preventing seasonal flu is to get an annual flu shot each year. Getting the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu-related illnesses and helps reduce the risk of serious complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. Work on using preventive care in your everyday life such as staying away from people who are sick, covering mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing, and the mainstay of preventive action - frequent handwashing to help stop or slow the spread of germs.
Take action now to prevent the flu by getting your immunization. Don’t wait any longer. It’s time. Get your annual flu shot at your local pharmacy, your health care provider’s office or health department. With December 2-8 being National Influenza Vaccination Week, put it on your list and check it twice.
PTI wishes you and your family a healthy, happy and flu-free holiday season.