It is Flu Season: Protect Yourself and your Children
By Arturo Gastanaduy, M.D.
Click aqui para español- >Temporada de Gripe: Protéjase y proteja a sus hijos
The “Flu” is a highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the Influenza viruses. It usually comes during the Fall and Winter months and attacks millions of people. Most illnesses are mild-moderate.
However, about a half million persons require hospitalization and between 12,000 and 56,000 die from it each year. People exposed to influenza become ill in 1 to 4 days with sudden onset of high fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, sore throat, cough and nose congestion. The illness lasts between 7 to10 days and resolves gradually.
Influenza complications could be moderate like ear and sinus infections or severe like pneumonia, inflammation of the heart, brain, and muscles, and generalized infection. The complications are produced by the virus itself and by co-infection with other germs.
Severe disease and death are more common in infants and small children, adults over 65 years, pregnant women and persons with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.
Influenza vaccine is the most effective way to prevent the illness and its complications. Everyone older than 6 months of age should be vaccinated. Yearly immunization is needed because the viruses change with time. The best season for vaccination is the Fall.
Influenza can be diagnosed with a nose swab sample and doctors can prescribe medicines to treat it. These medicines do not prevent the disease, but they can make it less severe, and to be more effective, they should be given during the first two days of the illness.
You can prevent the spread of influenza by vaccinating yourself and your family members, and by following simple steps like covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, hand washing and avoiding contact with sick people.