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Healthy Living: Protect yourself from the flu
By Linda Dunn, R.N.
If the flu seems to be everywhere, it’s not your imagination. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), flu is on the increase across the country, with most states including Texas experiencing high levels of flu-like illness that are close to peak levels of past moderate seasons.
Ever hear the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? That is the perfect way to consider the flu because the best way to avoid it is to be proactive: Get vaccinated starting from the age of six months and practice diligent hand hygiene.
Help prevent the spread of illness by frequently washing hands with soap and water when they are visibly soiled and sanitizing hands with alcohol-based formulas after touching contaminated surfaces like grocery carts, counter tops, or doorknobs.
Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by viruses that infect the nose, throat, and lungs. It can be mild to severe, and in some cases, it can lead to death. In the past 30 years, annual flu-related deaths have ranged from a low of 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 Americans, according to CDC data.
Those at greater risk of serious complications are the very young, the very old, and pregnant women. Also, individuals with asthma and other lung diseases, diabetes, heart disease, and people with compromised immune systems, or those living in nursing homes are at higher risk of complications.
Those who experience flu-like symptoms should seek prompt medical attention because if started early, prescribed antiviral medications can be effective.
For more information, visit www.CDC.gov/flu or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.
Linda Dunn, R.N., is employed with Connally Memorial Medical Center in Floresville as an infection control/employee health nurse.
The flu usually strikes fast and hard. Some symptoms include:
•Body pain or muscle aches
•Diarrhea and vomiting (especially children and babies)
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