FLU SEASON IS NOT OVER!
Flu season is not over just like winter is not over in Wisconsin! Now is not the time to think we are out of the woods and let down our guard concerning influenza.
The dominant strain of the flu was H1N1 at the beginning of the season, but the H3N2 strain has been the dominant strain in some regions the past few weeks. H3N2, a swine flu variant, seems to spread more easily from pigs to humans than other swine flu viruses. It can be more severe for older adults and very young children according to CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. The CDC is concerned the virus could mutate and start spreading between people.
This interests me because not only is my immune system compromised due to the biologic I take for my rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but I am at increased risk for heart, lung and other diseases because of the systemic inflammation caused by the RA. This all leaves me more vulnerable to potential complications of the flu. Diabetics, the obese, children under the age of 5, pregnant women, and adults over 65 years old are at increased risk, as well. I want to do all I can to prevent getting the flu. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent getting the flu.
Tips to help prevent getting the flu:
- It is not too late to get the flu vaccine. Although this year’s vaccine doesn’t cover the H3N2 virus, researches think it will help lessen the symptoms. It takes about 2 weeks for the vaccination to kick in.
- Wash hands frequently. Keep hand sanitizer with you in your purse or backpack to use when you can’t wash your hands.
- Stay hydrated.
- Get 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Eat healthy foods to keep your body properly fueled. Actually, use the *FRESH* strategy.
- Avoid crowds.
- If you are exposed to the flu, seek medical care to get a prescription for an anti-viral to help prevent getting the flu.
- If you have symptoms such as cough, sore throat, nasal congestion, fever, muscle or body aches, headache, or fatigue seek medical care. An anti-viral can help lessen the symptoms if started within 48 hours of the first symptom.
- Change out towels in the kitchen and bath often at home. Do not share towels.
Take good care of yourself now because flu season is not over!
And that is using Arthritis Wisdom!
photo credit: Kelly Sikkema of Unsplash