By Eileen Bratton, PPh Senior Director of Skilled Nursing & Infectious Control
It’s that time of the year again, no I am not referring to Christmas, I mean “Flu Season”. While most flu activity occurs from October to May, the flu virus is detected year round. As you may know, Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the Influenza virus. It can be a mild to a more severe illness, the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated each year. The symptoms of Influenza are fever, although not everyone with the flu will have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscle or body aches, headache and fatigue. Most people will recover in a few days to two weeks. Those with multiple health issues may have a more difficult time in the recovery process and are at risk of developing pneumonia, sinus or ear infections. If diagnosed early, antiviral medication is available, to help decrease the severity of the flu. Otherwise, symptomatic treatment is recommended. That means, fluids to maintain good hydration and tylenol or ibuprofen for fever and aches, make sure to get plenty of rest. Since the flu is very contagious, one should stay home from work when they have the flu or flu-like symptoms, especially during flu season.
The flu is unpredictable and how severe it is can vary widely from one season to the next and that is dependent on; what flu virus is spreading, how available the vaccine is, how many people receive the vaccine and, how well the vaccine matches the flu virus that is causing the illness. Many people make the decision not to be vaccinated because they feel they will then get the flu, that is a myth. Young children and adults over age 65 should receive the Influenza annually. Healthcare workers, especially in long term care/personal care communities, should all be vaccinated. We should all “do what it takes” to keep everyone happy and healthy this flu season. So, roll up your sleeve and take one for the team!