The 2018 flu season arrived earlier than usual and is only predicted to get worse. The deadly virus is already widespread in 46 states and some hospitals are even limiting visitors to slow the spread, reports Amwell.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications.
Symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include:
- Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Fatigue (tiredness)
- Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, the CDC recommends taking an antiviral within 48 hours of initial symptoms to reduce the duration of the flu.
In a recent article, “Flu Season Is Shaping Up To Be A Nasty One, CDC Says” NPR reported that officials say based on the latest available data, the United States could be experiencing one of the most severe flu seasons in years, possibly similar to the severe 2014-2015 flu season.
“We are currently in the midst of a very active flu season with much of the nation experiencing widespread and intense activity,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald told reporters during a briefing.
Here are some things you can do to help protect yourself from the flu, according to this article by the Los Angeles Times.
- Get vaccinated. Officials say this is the single best way to avoid the flu.
- Avoid close contact. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
- Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school and running errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick.
- Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often are spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
Get the latest information about the flu (such as key facts, when the season occurs in the U.S., how it spreads and who is most at risk) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.