Here's how to stay safe this flu season.
If you think the flu is just a bad cold, then it's possible that you haven't actually had the flu—at least not in recent memory. While flu can be mild, more often this highly-contagious virus strikes quickly and with clear symptoms. You might feel just fine and an hour later feel weak, achy, chilled, and feverish.
The good news is there's a lot you can do to stay healthy. Get started with the following flu season tips:
Last flu season, which lasted from October 2017 through April 2018, was especially bad. The CDC recently reported that a record number of people fell ill and 80,000 people died from flu-related complications.
It's not foolproof, but vaccination is still the best way to reduce your chances of contracting the flu. If you still end up getting the flu, your symptoms will be milder and your chances of developing severe complications will be much lower.
While anyone can get sick from the flu, people with chronic health conditions like diabetes are particularly vulnerable. Diabetes puts you at risk because the disease, even if it's properly managed, can impact your immune system. That means you're more likely to catch the flu and may have a harder time fighting it off if you do contract it. It is recommended that people with diabetes get the flu shot, not the nasal spray. While it might be tempting to forgo the needle, the shot contains completely killed viruses so it's safer for people with chronic diseases.
Your doctor or a Rite Aid Pharmacist can administer the shot as soon as it's convenient for you this fall.
Contracting the flu can increase your risk of developing pneumonia, which can be very serious and even life-threatening. The CDC currently recommends that all adults age 65 and older get two pneumococcal vaccines (PCV13 and PPSV23). In addition, some adults younger than 65 years of age are also at increased risk for pneumococcal disease, including those with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. If you haven't already been vaccinated against pneumonia, ask your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist which pneumonia vaccines are recommended for you.
Aside from getting vaccinated, washing your hands often and staying away from people who are sick are effective ways to keep yourself healthy. Scrubbing with soap and water is the best way to kill germs, but a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is a good backup option when you're on the go.
If someone in your house is sick, be sure to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, and computer keyboards.
If you think it's possible that you've contracted the flu, you might need a prescription for an antiviral medication. While this medication can help you recover from the flu faster, the catch is that you need to start treatment within 48 hours of symptom onset.
Whether you take antiviral medication or not, be on the lookout for serious complications. If you develop trouble breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or suddenly become dizzy or confused, get help right away. Flu can be dangerous, but it's also treatable, and in the best of cases it's also preventable.
By Barbara Brody
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cold Versus Flu
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Flu and People With Diabetes
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Show Me the Science: Situations Where Hand Sanitizer Can Be Effective and How to Use It In Community Settings
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Summary of the 2017-2018 Influenza Season
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.