“Flu season is here,” says LHSFNA Management Co-Chairman Noel C. Borck, “and that means it’s time for your annual flu vaccination. Flu isn’t always regarded as a serious illness, but it can be life threatening.” He cites data that in the United States alone, the flu kills thousands of people every year and sends tens of thousands more to the hospital.
When an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, flu viruses (also known as influenza) travel through the air in tiny droplets of mucus or saliva. Others inhale the droplets or touch something on which they have landed and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.
People who have flu often feel some or all of these signs and symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (very tired)
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children than adults)
Flu viruses constantly evolve. Scientists estimate which three will be most prevalent in a particular year, and a vaccine is developed accordingly. Containing killed viruses and given as a shot, the vaccine does not guarantee you won’t get the flu (it only defends against the targeted viruses), but it is your best defense. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that, beginning at six months of age, everyone be vaccinated as soon as the year’s new vaccine is available.
In addition to getting your vaccination, prevention and treatment includes:
- Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing/ sneezing or coughing/ sneezing into your elbow
- Washing your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner, especially after coughing or sneezing
- Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Avoiding close contact with sick people
- If you have the flu, staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine) and keeping away from others as much as possible to keep from making them sick
Seasonal Influenza, a health alert from the LHSFNA, addresses a variety of flu issues and concerns. It is available through the Fund’s online catalogue.
[Janet Lubman Rathner]