Each year in the United States 10 to 35 million cases of the flu arise each year. The Flu is responsible for around 140,000–710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000–56,000 deaths annually. But what is the flu?
The flu is a highly contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza types A and B viruses. Flu season begins in October, peaks in December, and sometimes lasts as late at May. There are certain groups of people who are at the greatest risk of experiencing complications from the flu including young children, pregnant women, adults who are over 65, and those who have chronical medical conditions.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
Recommendations on How to Avoid the Flu
- Get the flu shot – This is the single best thing you can do to protect yourself from severe illness. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year before flu activity begins in October.
- Take preventative actions – To stop the spread of germs try to avoid close contact with those who are sick, stay away from others if you are sick, remember to cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands with soap and be sure to disinfect surfaces.
- Try flu antiviral drugs - Flu antiviral drugs are prescription medications that reduce flu severity and complications. They may also prevent you from getting flu when taken before getting sick. They work by fighting the flu virus and preventing it from multiplying in your body. These are not available over the counter.
- Give your immune system a boost – When your immune system is in tiptop shape it launches an attack on threats — such as the flu. Implement healthy living strategies such as consuming a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet, exercising frequently, aiming for a healthy BMI, sleeping for 7–9 hours each night and reducing stress.