Updated: Nov 20
As the flu season draws near, it's crucial to arm yourself with the knowledge and preparations necessary to protect both yourself and your loved ones. Courtyard Pharmacy is here to provide you with a concise guide on how to get ready and recognize flu symptoms.
Preparation for Flu Season
1. Get Your Flu Shot - The first line of defense against the flu is the annual flu vaccine. Ensuring that you and your family members are up-to-date on flu vaccinations is a highly effective preventive measure. The vaccine helps your immune system recognize and fight the influenza virus, reducing the severity of the illness if you do get infected.
2. Hand Hygiene - Frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is essential. Proper hand hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the flu. In situations where soap and water are not available, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is a good alternative.
3. Respiratory Etiquette - Be mindful of how you cough or sneeze. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. This simple practice can help contain the virus and protect those around you.
4. Stay Informed - Keep yourself informed by staying updated on local health advisories and following recommended guidelines. Information is a valuable tool in the fight against the flu. Stay aware of any flu outbreaks in your area and take appropriate precautions.
Recognizing Flu Symptoms
Flu symptoms can vary from person to person, but common signs to watch for include:
- Fever: A high body temperature is a typical flu symptom.
- Cough: A persistent cough, often dry and hacking, can accompany the flu.
- Sore Throat: A scratchy or sore throat is a common early sign.
- Muscle Aches and Fatigue: Generalized body aches and feeling unusually tired are frequent flu symptoms.
- Headache: A severe headache can often accompany the flu.
If you or a loved one experience these symptoms, it's important to take action:
- Seek Medical Advice: Contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance on managing flu symptoms. They can recommend appropriate over-the-counter medications and treatment options, as well as help you access anti-viral medications for the flu.
- Isolate: If you or a family member is sick, consider isolating yourself to prevent the spread of the virus. Rest and hydration are crucial for recovery.
- Follow Medical Advice: Adhere to the advice provided by your healthcare professional, and take prescribed medications as directed.
Remember, preparation and awareness are key in navigating flu season successfully. By taking preventive measures and knowing how to recognize flu symptoms, you can help protect yourself and your community from the flu's impact.
Stay safe and stay well during this flu season, courtesy of Courtyard Pharmacy.
INFLUENZA UPDATE 10/26/23
Influenza is transmitted by droplets by an infected person while coughing, sneezing, or talking. The droplets can settle on surfaces and can contaminate hands that then can transport virus to mucous membranes on the face.
Incubation period is very fast (2 days, range 1-4 days) and individuals can be infectious the day before showing symptoms through day 5-7; younger children can remain infectious for longer than 7 days.
Symptom onset is abrupt and can include respiratory (nasal and chest congestion, cough), systemic (fever, chills, muscle and joint aches), and GI symptom (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea).
Treatment options include antiviral medications as well as symptom support, hydration, and rest. Aspirin must be avoided in children and teenagers due to risk of Reys syndrome.
Immunization against the flu is recommended for all individuals aged 6 months and older, with very few exceptions. The goal is to protect individuals from vaccine but also to keep it from spreading to vulnerable individuals (children under age 5, elderly, and anyone at high risk of complications from an infection). Timing of the vaccination is important: most individuals should not be vaccinated until September/October, but vaccinating as early as July or August can be acceptable for pregnant people in
the 3rd trimester, healthy children during pre-school year wellness visit, and anyone that might be lost to follow up later in the season. Vaccination efforts should continue throughout the Flu season (October to May in Northern Hemisphere) as long as flu viruses remain in circulation and unexpired vaccines are available.
Table: Demonstrated benefits of flu vaccines:
Decreased risk of hospitalization for flu-like illnesses
Important preventative tool for people with chronic health conditions
Associated with lower risks of some cardiac events among people with heart disease.
Decreased hospitalization among people diabetes and chronic lung disease
Protect women during and after pregnancy and protects their newborn infants
Can significantly decrease risk of a child dying from the flu
Can make illness milder if vaccinated person gets the flu
Decreased societal and individual costs (direct expenditures and improved productivity)
Side effects of the flu vaccines are usually limited to local injection reactions that last 1-2 days. Protection from the injection takes 2 weeks.
More serious reactions (allergic reactions, Guillame Barre Syndrome, febrile seizures) are extremely rare. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about the flu vaccine and timing of immunization.