As we approach the fall and winter months, it's time to prepare for another flu season. In this blog, we'll explore what to expect from the upcoming flu season and the importance of getting a flu vaccine.
The flu season typically occurs from late fall through early spring, peaking in December through February. Each year, the influenza virus can vary in terms of severity and the strains it contains.
Common flu symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
Symptoms of the flu can range from mild to severe and may lead to complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections, in vulnerable populations like the elderly, children, and those with underlying health conditions. Given the overlap in symptoms between the flu and COVID-19, it's essential to consider both possibilities if you start feeling unwell.
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others from the flu is by getting a flu shot. The flu vaccine significantly reduces the risk of contracting the flu or experiencing severe symptoms if you do get infected. Getting vaccinated also helps protect those who are more susceptible to severe flu complications.
Steps to Protect Yourself This Flu Season:
Get Vaccinated: Vaccines are available now at most pharmacies.
Practice Good Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer when soap is unavailable.
Maintain Distance: Keep a safe distance from individuals who are sick or displaying symptoms.
Stay Home When Sick: If you feel unwell, isolate yourself to prevent the spread of the virus.
Cover Coughs and Sneezes: Use a tissue or your elbow to cover your mouth and nose.
Clean and Disinfect: Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
The flu vaccine is typically recommended for everyone aged six months and older, with certain high-risk groups, such as the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and individuals with underlying health conditions, especially encouraged to get vaccinated.
If you suspect you have the flu, take these steps:
- Isolate Yourself: Stay at home to prevent spreading the influenza virus to others. This is especially crucial if you have close contact with individuals at higher risk of severe illness.
- Rest and Hydrate: Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and use over-the-counter medications to alleviate symptoms.
- Contact Your Primary Care Provider: If you experience severe symptoms, difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain, confusion, bluish lips or face, or any other concerning signs, seek medical attention immediately. Also, antiviral therapy (Tamiflu/oseltamivir) can be helpful in some cases.
For our Academic Medical Associates patients, flu shots are available at the pharmacy located on the first floor of our building. To find additional locations to obtain a flu vaccine, visit https://www.dshs.texas.gov/influenza-flu/influenza-flu-vaccination or call 2-1-1.