Don’t be Afraid of the Flu!
With nightmares of witches, warlocks, vampires, and zombies in the air, there is another danger in the fall: flu season. This year, we may need to prepare for the worst. According to an article in the NY Times by Donald G. McNeil Jr., Australia can serve as a looking glass for things to come since they experience winter and flu season before the Northern Hemisphere. So far, the nightmares of the flu outbreak in Australia are scary: more laboratory confirmed cases than ever before with 7 weeks remaining in their flu season. Their flu season was longer and peaked two months earlier than normal. Prior to this, 2017 had been the worst flu season for both Australia and the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2017, the flu affected 48.8 million Americans, resulting in 80,000 deaths. Read more about Australia’s flu season in this article. If this signals what is coming to the US, we need to defend ourselves.
This respiratory virus can be dangerous and potentially deadly, especially to children and the elderly. Based on information from the CDC, signs of the flu include:
- Sore throat
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Muscle aches
- Diarrhea or vomiting
While many of the warning signs are similar to a cold, the flu’s symptoms are typically more severe. If you are having flu symptoms, be sure to head to the nearest health clinic to be tested.
The good news: you don’t have to be afraid of the flu. Here are some tips to reduce your risk:
- Flu shot: help your body prepare against the most common flu viruses. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to be of benefit. A vaccination is estimated to help prevent the flu 40-60% of the time, with effectiveness varying each year. Knowing that this is the most powerful shield to fight the flu, it is worth the time and effort. The flu vaccine takes into account the viral strains from both the US and Australia. So, there is a chance that the US vaccination may be more effective than the Australian vaccination for 2019.
- Stop the spread of germs: wash your hands and remind your friends and family to cough/sneeze away from others. If you have a fever, stay away from others for 24 hours after your fever has resolved.
If you have a cold, rely on Cold FAid™ to shorten the length and intensity of your cold. Using a research based strategy and four over-the-counter medications, the Cold FAid™ kit prepares you to fight a cold at the first sign of a sniffle, runny nose, and sore throat. The Cold FAid™ app tracks symptoms, notifies you when to take medications, provides directions to the closest student health center or urgent care and allows you to email recorded symptoms and medications to family or your medical provider.
Did you know that a portion of the profits from Cold FAid™ help support Families Fighting Flu? This national, nonprofit organization is committed to keeping you and your family safe by providing critical awareness about the serious nature of the flu. Learn more on their website.