Recently, a child in Hillsborough County, Florida was the first to succumb to the illness and died shortly after being diagnosed with influenza B. The child had no other underlying health conditions but had not been vaccinated with the flu vaccine.
This is the first confirmed death from the flu this 2018-19 flu season. Last year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that over 80,000 deaths were caused by the flu or complications from the flu.
To keep you and your family safe this flu season, we’ve outlined several preventative steps to take. But first, let’s define what the flu is and what symptoms to look out for.
What Is the Flu?
The flu or influenza is an extremely contagious respiratory illness, which may be caused by either influenza A or influenza B virus. There are more than 100 strains of the flu, and each year, new strains evolve.
The flu cannot be helped by antibiotics, but there are antiviral medications that can sometimes help. It’s important to go to an urgent care center quickly when you notice signs of the flu as these antiviral drugs work best when taken early on. The drugs can limit the amount of time you experience symptoms and can also help you avoid flu-related complications, which may be life-threatening.
Unlike the common cold, the flu has more extreme and uncomfortable symptoms, which include:
- Consistent cough
- Sore, scratchy throat
- Stuffed and/or runny nose
- Headaches and body aches
Sometimes the flu can also lead to an elevated fever, diarrhea, and vomiting. Not all symptoms will be present in all patients who have the flu. Often, the illness presents itself differently in different individuals, and symptoms may be mild or severe.
The severity of flu symptoms depends on the overall health of a patient and whether they have had the most recent flu vaccine.
How Long Is Someone Contagious with the flu?
The first three to four days comprise the most contagious period of the flu, but sometimes, the flu is passed from a carrier to someone else before the carrier even realizes they’re sick. This can happen even up to an entire day before symptoms show up in the carrier.
After becoming sick, it is also possible for the carrier to be contagious five to seven days later in some cases. Those who have weakened immune systems and kids may be able to infect others for an even longer period of time.
For this reason, it is wise to stay away from people who are or have recently been sick with the flu if you can. Don’t hug or kiss them, and avoid touching them. If you are caring for someone with the flu, practice hygienic habits by using gloves, washing your hands frequently, wearing a face mask, and using hand sanitizer and sanitation wipes, etc.
Three Ways to Prevent the Flu at Home
- Get the Flu Vaccination
The flu vaccine is the absolute best way to avoid contracting the flu. This vaccine must be taken annually at the beginning of each flu season (generally in September or October). Doctors say that getting the flu vaccine can decrease chances of flu-related hospitalization by over 40%.
- Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer.
Wash your hands frequently throughout the day and especially after being in public spaces. Wash your hands frequently — each time for at least 20 seconds and with warm water and soap. When washing your hands isn’t an option, carry hand sanitizer with you.
- Cover coughs, and avoid touching your face.
Whenever you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth and face using the “vampire cough” method, which is when you cough into the pit of your elbow to limit the spread of germs . At all times, avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes, unless you know your hands are newly clean.
Have Flu Symptoms? Visit AFC Urgent Care Immediately
If you have experienced any of the flu symptoms listed above, stop into an American Family Care Urgent Care Center as soon as possible. We have four locations in and around Denver, and there’s no need to make an appointment — just walk in!
We can diagnose your symptoms and provide immediate treatment to avoid serious complications and get you feeling better in no time. Learn more about our urgent care centers and reserve your spot by heading here. And don’t forget, we also offer the preventative flu vaccine for walk- ins or by appointment.
Schedule your flu shot by reserving an online appointment here!