Get Set for a Healthy Winter Season

September 15, 2017

Winter and fall seem to be the most vulnerable times for getting contagious viruses because we tend to share more indoor time with other people when the weather starts cooling down.

However, there are plenty of FDA-approved medicines and vaccines you can take to combat these ailments.

Colds and Flu

A lot of respiratory infections go away as soon as they surface—often within a matter of a couple of days. There are some that are more lasting and can create serious health issues. Tobacco users and people who are around secondhand smoke often are more likely to experience respiratory infections and more serious complications than nonsmokers and nontobacco users.

Colds typically cause a runny or stuffy nose and sneezing. Sometimes, other symptoms are present like watery eyes, coughing and a scratchy throat. These are often spread through infected mucus and often gradually occur. To date, there is no vaccine available that combats a cold.

The Flu arrives suddenly and lasts a longer time than colds do. Signs of the flu are chills, fever, headache, body aches, dry cough, tiredness and overall discomfort. You can also have cold symptoms like runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes and sneezing. Some children have nausea and vomiting with the flu. This virus is contagious and spreads from droplets that occur when people with the flu talk, sneeze or cough. Touching a surface that has the flu virus can also cause you to catch the flu.

The time between the months of October and May is considered the Flu season in the United States with peaks time between December and February. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that:

  • Every year over 200,000 Americans experience hospital-related episodes from the flu (20,000 of these are children under age 5).
  • Between the 2014-15 flu season, 40 million flu-related conditions occurred. There were about 19 million flu-related healthcare visits and 970,000 flu-related hospitalizations, which was a record high for one flu season.
  • Between 1976 and 2006, there were between 3,000 to 49,000 deaths reported that related to the flu.

Prevention Tips

Get vaccinated against flu.

People ages 6 months and older should get the flu vaccine in nasal spray or shot form to decrease the need to be out of work and school because of the symptoms of the flu. The vaccine may also prevent hospitalizations and deaths from this virus.

It’s best to get vaccinated each year in the month of October, but it can still provide some relief if taken in January and afterwards. The reason why the vaccine has to be taken every year is because the virus mutates frequently and the protection from the previous year’s vaccine starts to decrease in effectiveness. If you are prone to other complication from having the flu, then it is highly recommended you take the vaccine every year.

People at high risk for the flu are:

  • Women who are pregnant
  • Children under 5 years old (especially those under 2)
  • People 6People 65 and up
  • People with certain chronic health conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart and lung disease).

If you work in the health profession or live with/care for people with weak immune systems or are over 65 years old, then it is extremely important you get vaccinated.  Pregnant mothers are advised to get the flu vaccine while pregnant so their baby can stay protected up to six months after birth. Also, make sure people who come in contact with the baby are also current with their vaccinations.

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