Flu Season Is Nothing to Sneeze at; Take Precautions

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Flu Season Is Nothing to Sneeze at; Take Precautions

Most doctors recommend a vaccine or nasal spray to ward off the flu.

Most doctors recommend a vaccine or nasal spray to ward off the flu.

Most doctors recommend a vaccine or nasal spray to ward off the flu.

Most doctors recommend a vaccine or nasal spray to ward off the flu.

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It is that time of year again when fevers strike and headaches pound. The 2018 influenza season is among us, and it is hitting hard.

The start of fall marks a time for cooler weather and pumpkin spice everything; yet it also begins the flu season.

The flu virus is constantly changing, so it is important to stay updated on the best vaccines and treatments available. Because an infinite number of strands of this virus exist, vaccines are unable to mask every form that may enter the body. Scientists take into account whichever strand is most prevalent at the given time in order to make the most effective course of treatment.

This year specifically, the B/Victoria and influenza A(H3N2) components were updated to fit the current circumstances of the virus. As the genetics of the flu strands continue to mutate in order to stay alive, the vaccination does as well.

Under today’s conditions, doctors recommend either the live nasal spray or standard dose shot as the typical course of action. For all vaccinations given, the doses will be quadrivalent as opposed to previous years where trivalent was an option. A quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses. However, like any medical situation, certain factors come into play. In this case, a person’s age, health (current and past) status, and allergies in regards to medication are to be considered.

While the flu epidemic does not seem significant to everyone as many escape each year without a single symptom, much of the population suffers serious illness during the fall and winter months. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses mathematical modeling to predict the number of people with serious flu-like symptoms. Since 2010, the CDC has predicted that between 140,000 and 710,000 hospitalizations will occur each year due to influenza outbreaks. Also, the CDC estimates that deaths resulting from the flu can be anywhere between 12,000 and 26,000.

Now that the flu season is technically in full swing, it is important for everyone to pay attention and monitor their health to ensure that if one does come down with flu symptoms, he or she can be treated with minimal risk.

The influenza infection generally hits the respiratory tract, affecting the airways of the nose, throat, and lungs. As the virus continues to invade the body, the body’s immune system begins working vigorously to fight it off. This response can result in a myriad of symptoms, commonly a cough, sore throat, fever, and muscle aches.

Generally, people who fall ill will recover in anywhere between a few days to a couple weeks. But, in rare cases, people can become extremely sick and face much more intense and serious complications. Pneumonia often follows the flu in those who had higher risk cases. Additionally, certain heart, brain, and muscle conditions have been noted along with potential multi-organ failure.

In Tallahassee, Florida, state health officials have reported the first child to die due to the flu virus this year. This child tested positive for Influenza B after the death occurring sometime between Sept. 30 and Oct. 6. The child was said to be very healthy before coming down with the flu and had not yet been vaccinated. While very few details have been released due to privacy reasons, it has been confirmed that this child’s death was directly linked to the flu.

During the 2017-2018 flu season, about 80,000 Americans, including 180 children, died because of the virus. Nearly 80 percent of those 80,000 were unvaccinated.

The CDC announced that last year’s number of child deaths linked to the flu or flu-related causes was the highest that it had ever been since it began keeping these records in 2004. The department now recommends that everyone from the age of six months should get a flu vaccine each year.

According to health department officials, vaccinations reduce a child’s likelihood of dying from the flu by 60 percent. The CDC notes that children younger than age five are at a high risk for serious flu-related complications, therefore recommending that vaccinations are administered.

Those children ages six months to 18 years who have certain chronic health issues are also even more severely prone to dangerous complications. People suffering from diseases and conditions including asthma, liver/kidney disease, epilepsy, weaker immune systems, and countless others have to be that much more careful during flu season, as exposure to the virus can leave lasting issues.

Before lighting fall scented candles or decorating the house in brightly colored leaves, people need to remember that this is the season of influenza. Taking preventative measures like vaccines can drastically reduce one’s chance of getting sick or having severe complications, so it is time to put health above all else.

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