Things are getting increasingly festive this time of year, but something scary is looming… the flu. Last season, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported up to 42.9 million cases of flu and up to 61,200 flu deaths — And that’s just from October 1, 2018, through May 4, 2019. This year, the CDC’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report for week 40 ending October 5, 2019 already attributes 5.0% of deaths to pneumonia and influenza — just 0.6% points below the epidemic threshold of 5.6%.
Prevention measures for the 2019 flu season
While standard preventative measures are still effective, they’re not as widely understood as you may think. For instance, many still believe healthy people don’t need a flu vaccine, or that you can get the flu from exposure to cold weather. The ease with which people can publish and access information on the internet means patients often find inaccurate information on the virus and it's prevention.
If all you’ve got with a patient is a 30-second elevator pitch, what would you share to help them avoid infection? One of our other blog posts dives a little deeper into what you can do to provide clear, reliable answers to some of their questions on the flu; but if we share two key points, we’d recommend focussing on:
- • The importance of hand hygiene. We all touch our faces unconsciously many times throughout the day. This brings the mucous membranes in our nose, mouth, and eyes into closer contact with pathogens than most patients realize. Encouraging patients to regularly wash their hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers during flu season can be a deciding factor that helps prevent infection.
- • Getting an annual flu shot. Patients may not be aware of how effective an annual vaccine is. Since different flu strains circulate each year, it’s also important to highlight how regular vaccination plays a key role in avoiding flu entirely, or at least experiencing less-severe symptoms.
Getting ahead of the 2019 flu season also means knowing which signs to look out for, as early treatment may prevent the worst symptoms and complications from developing. Here are 8 key symptoms that may indicate flu:
- • Fever (not experienced by everyone)
- • Cough
- • Sore throat
- • Stuffy or runny nose
- • Headaches
- • Fatigue
- • Muscle aches
- • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
Complications can also set in, which may extend the usual flu recovery period of a few days to two weeks. Sinus and ear infections are moderate complications, while pneumonia is on the more serious side of this spectrum. Flu sufferers are also at risk of multiple other serious complications, such as myocarditis, encephalitis, myositis, and multiple organ failure.
People with chronic medical problems may also find their preexisting conditions get worse while they have the flu. Asthmatics may have more attacks during this period, for example, and conditions may also flare up for those with chronic heart disease.
Luckily, early and appropriate treatment makes managing symptoms and preventing complications far more possible. While most people may need nothing more than a few days rest, the CDC recommends that people in a high risk group — e.g. the elderly, pregnant, or very young — seek medical attention sooner rather than later. While antiviral drugs help make the illness shorter and lessen the severity of symptoms, they’re most effective when started within 2 days of the infection setting in. This is why patients should seek medical assistance as soon as they suspect they may have the flu.
Outsmart infectionⓇ with VentyvⓇ
Helping you protect yourself and others from infection is important to us. That’s why we’ve dedicated ourselves to supplying high quality infection prevention products coupled with the latest industry information. Outsmart InfectionⓇ with VentyvⓇ — request a free sample of our gloves today and give yourself a head start on the 2019 flu season.