It is true, we are not through with the flu this season. The predominant strain this year is Influenza A (H3N2) and it is more severe. This is a concern to everyone, but especially to those of us taking immunosuppressives to treat our rheumatoid arthritis (RA). I’m being extra careful going about my day-to-day business as the flu has reached epidemic status.
I actually had Influenza B last year about this time and I do not want a repeat. Here are the 10 ways I’m focusing on flu prevention.
Flu Prevention 10 Ways:
- Get vaccinated! It is not too late! The flu vaccine is indicated for most people 6 months and older. It takes about two weeks after the injection to be effective.
- I’m avoiding crowds if possible. I’m also avoiding close contact with anyone sneezing or coughing.
- I’m washing my hands often using paper towels to dry them. At home I’m changing out my towels frequently. If I can’t wash my hands with soap and water, I’ll use a alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- As always, I cover my mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth, mucous membranes that are particularly at risk of infection.
- Clean and disinfect hard surfaces often with an antiviral cleanser. Remember door knobs, handles, keypads, phones, light switches and other surfaces you may not ordinarily think of.
- Use a humidifier.
- Wear a mask upon entering the clinic to get my lab work done.
- Utilize my FRESH lifestyle. ( Nutritious food, rest and stress management, exercise, get 8 hours of sleep and stay hydrated)
- Carry hand sanitizer with me to use when touching hard surfaces in public.
It is good to remember a person may infect someone else a day before symptoms appear. That makes it difficult to know who may be infected. That is why for the next several months I will avoid crowds and limit my exposure to others who may be sick.
I will also stay at home if I am ill. I know how hard it is to break a commitment, but others will appreciate your consideration if you are not feeling well.
Just knowing how serious the epidemic is this year makes me more cautious about being out and about. That is a choice I’ve made since being diagnosed with RA. I am far more likely to avoid crowds and to stay at home if I know I may come in contact with others that are sick. Before RA, I didn’t give that consideration a second thought.
Influenza, or the flu, can be mild or severe. Because of the potential seriousness I will be aware of the usual symptoms. Here are some of them:
- fever (not everyone experiences fever)
- feeling feverish or chills
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- muscle or body aches
If I experience any of these symptoms I will go straight to the doctor, grab a mask when entering the clinic, and be examined as there are anti-viral medications available. The most common is Tamiflu and is most effective if started within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms. The anti-viral can lessen the duration of the illness.
I hope we can all avoid the flu. Using these 10 tips will help, but the flu is very contagious and is spread through droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze or on a contaminated surface.
Take care. XXOO Cathy