Reaching middle age puts women right in the middle of things. We may still have kids at home, but we also may be sandwiched with taking care of our parents. Some of us are lucky enough to have small grandchildren to fawn over during the holiday season. That’s why it’s really important to get your flu shot now!
Seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by various flu viruses. Between 5-20 percent of U.S. residents annually contract the flu, which is spread between people and can range from a mild case to a severe case. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized each year for complications caused by the flu, which can include bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, dehydration, or worsening of chronic health conditions. Some people even die from the flu.
So why should you be concerned? If you contract the flu, you could easily spread it to people around you. And some of these loved ones are more likely to experience complications if they contract this disease. These groups include people who are 65 years old and above, children (especially infants and toddlers younger than the age of 2), and people who have chronic health conditions.
And it’s important not to delay getting the flu shot. As of November 30, 48 states and Puerto Rico have reported cases of influenza. Furthermore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in parts of the country is already higher than last season’s activity. “With the exception of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, this is the earliest that the nation has hit the ILI baseline since the 2003-2004 season, which was early and severe, especially for children,” the CDC stated. “Last season, which was mild and late, the U.S. did not reach baseline for ILI until mid-March.” The area of the United States where flu is the most intense is the south-central and southeastern portions. However, experts believe that signs are increasing that flu may increase across the rest of the country. According to Flu.gov, seasonal flu activity usually peaks in January or February, although it can occur much earlier in the fall or as late as May.
Flu can linger for up to two weeks. However, that isn’t the window when you can infect others. Most healthy adults can actually infect other people with the flu one day prior to symptoms developing and for 5-7 days after symptoms appear. “Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune symptoms, might be contagious for a longer period of time,” Flu.gov stated.
So what are the symptoms? Although there are multiple types of flus, they all have the same symptoms These include a fever of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher or feeling feverish, a cough and/or sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. And Flu.gov reports that while the flu and common cold have similar symptoms, people with the flu tend to have more severe symptoms. If you want to gauge whether you or a loved one has the flu, the Mayo Clinic has a self-assessment that provides feedback on what you should do.
Obviously, contact your health care provider if you believe you or a loved one has the flu. However, see emergency medical attention if any of the following happens:
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath.
- Purple or blue discoloration of the lips.
- Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen.
- Sudden dizziness.
- Severe or persistent vomiting.
- Flu-like symptoms that improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). U.S. flu season off to early start, CDC urges vaccination.
Flu.gov. (2012). Website. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Mayo Clinic. (2010). Flu symptoms self-assessment: Do you have the flu?
Published On: December 10, 2012