What You Need to Know If You Get the Flu This Year

  • If you go out in public very often or come into contact with other people this winter, there's a good chance you're going to get the flu. Why? The fact is, this year's flu season is going to be severe. And even if you had your flu shot, you may not be protected.

     

    The reason is because the most common flu virus circulating this season is a variant strain of H3N2 that is not in the flu vaccine. Each year, experts try to predict which flu virus strains will be most common during the next flu season. Even in a good year, they only get it about 60 to 65% right. That's because flu viruses are always changing, and this year is no different. The H3N2 virus circulating now was not even in existence last spring when the experts were making their predictions.

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    So, if you come into contact with someone who has the flu this year, which is very likely, you'll probably get it too. Because of that, it's important to know what to do.

     

    Here are some tips:

     

    1. Don't wait to get treatment. If you start to run a fever, feel achey or have headaches, have a worse cough than usual, or notice any increase in the severity of your usual COPD symptoms, you may be coming down with the flu. Because you have COPD, things can get worse in a hurry. So call your doctor or get to an urgent care as soon as possible.

     

    2. Ask for a prescription for an antiviral flu medication, such as Tamiflu. The Centers for Disease Control highly recommends that anyone who has the flu be treated with an antiviral flu medication. Many people don't even know these medications exist. Also, doctors are sometimes reluctant to prescribe them.

     

    But, it's important to know that these medications can reduce the severity of your flu illness, shorten the length of time you are sick and keep you out of the hospital. They may even save your life! So, advocate for yourself and ask for this beneficial medication.

     

    3. Get your flu shot now, if you haven't gotten around to it yet. Even though this year's vaccine isn't effective against all of the flu viruses around, it may still provide some protection. Also, it will be effective against the type of virus (Influenza B) that often circulates at the end of flu season each year.

     

    4. Use common sense if you do get sick. Stay home and don't infect anyone else if you can help it. Cover your mouth when you cough. Take all of your COPD medications and treatments. Get extra rest and sleep. Drink lots of fluids, because fever, coughing and blowing your nose can quickly lead to dehydration.

     

    5. Get your pneumonia vaccine, if you need to. Last September, the CDC announced a new recommendation that all adults 65 years or older get two different pneumococcal vaccines. Pneumococcal disease causes Pneumonia and can be severe. Plus, having the flu increases your chances of getting pneumonia. So, the best way to prevent pneumonia is by getting vaccinated. This vaccine is especially important for those over the age of 65 and those who have high risk conditions, such as COPD and asthma.  

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    In Summary

     

    If you get the flu this year, don't panic. With the right treatment at the right time, you can get better and hopefully, even stay home!

Published On: January 22, 2015