While the focus is on COVID-19 outbreak, influenza season cannot be ignored. Just like coronavirus, influenza virus can spread with mild infections.
Influenza is a viral infection that attacks the nose, lungs and throat. Last year more than 39 million people got sick with influenza according to estimates of CDC. So the question is what will this winter be like with both COVID-19 and flu in the mix? The specialist exactly doesn’t know yet.
But there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones, and help keep the hospitals from becoming overwhelmed with sick patients this flu season. The flu season may start in October and doesn’t rear its heads until January or February. Influenza virus and coronavirus are both spreading in similar ways so it is likely to use face masks, maintain social distance and other actions to reduce the spread of flu and coronavirus. Face Masks provide a physical barrier for large particle respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs.
How to prepare yourself with the flu?
Both the flu and coronavirus are serious illnesses. Prepare yourself and your loved ones.
- Get your flu shot:
Research shows that the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of flu illness and makes it less likely that you would get severely ill even if you did become infected. There is no vaccine for coronavirus yet but you can protect yourself from the spread of viral infection. The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 6 months can get vaccinated. It is advisable to get a flu shot early October to prepare for the beginning parts of flu season.
- Stay vigilant with safety precautions:
Just like coronavirus, flu infection also spread through drops from a person’s nose or mouth. All the safety measures taken to prevent spread of noble coronavirus such as masking, staying six feet away, frequent washing of hands etc. can also be followed for flu season. This will reduce your chances of being exposed to a flu virus.
- Know what to do if you get sick:
Influenza virus and covid-19 have similar symptoms such as cough, fever, muscle aches and difficulty in breathing. If you develop any of the above symptoms, immediately get in touch with your doctor. The doctor will better advise you what can be done and if a test for the flu or COVID-19 should be conducted.
- Stock your medicine cabinet:
If you get a mild symptom of the flu or COVID-19, stay home and feel better until you get well to avoid passing it on to others. Doctors recommend keeping a few things handy just in case any of the symptoms takes place, a fever reducer such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), cough syrup, thermometer, ibuprofen for muscle aches. To measure the level of oxygen it is vital to keep a pulse oximeter at home.
Winter is the time for another contagious illness like respiratory syncytial virus (which commonly affects children) and norovirus ( a stomach bug). Taking necessary precautions for covid and flu virus will also help keep these illnesses at bay. Washing your hands frequently, practicing good cough etiquette, disinfecting hard surfaces with sanitizers and staying home while you’re sick are good practices to take in winter no matter what.
But with an extra layer of deadly disease, COVID-19 the care should also come extra. If we all want to go back to our normal lives where watching a movie in theater, eating in restaurants, playing in the garden, sending kids to school safely, we need to practice all the above preventive measures and understand that we are not just protecting ourselves but also people around us.
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