While catching the flu might seem like a minor inconvenience to some people, and others are fortunate to rarely encounter it, influenza is a very serious and highly contagious respiratory illness. Did you know that the flu pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than World War One? Today, the US sees about 9-32 million cases of the flu every year and leads to upwards of 800,000 hospitalizations and nearly 60,000 deaths.
Those are concerning numbers, with the types A and B viruses typically starting in October and peaking in the December to February winter season, including here in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex, San Antonio, and Waco, Texas areas. Let’s look closer at this prevalent and troublesome affliction.
At first glance, the flu resembles the common cold and while the pair do share many symptoms, they are very different. Cold symptoms come on gradually and in a mild form, while flu symptoms arise with rapid intensity and can lead to more serious issues such as pneumonia and bacterial infections.
Who is at Risk?
Short of never leaving your home and remaining in a bubble, there is no silver bullet for dodging the flu. Some residents of San Antonio and Waco, Texas are of course more susceptible to flu complications including younger children, elderly adults over age 65 with persistent medical conditions, and pregnant women.
However, it is not all bad news. You have a range of available actions to minimize exposure to flu, build immunity, and reduce infection risk.
Flu Prevention and Treatment in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex
Here are some proven and effective methods of flu prevention and treatment:
- Get a flu shot. Seasonal flu shots are the single best strategy to prevent serious flu-related illness. These shots protect against the most common viruses and are typically injected by needle into the upper arm. Everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu shot.
- Maintain healthy habits. Flu viruses can spread between people standing 6 feet apart via tiny moisture droplets carried from coughing, sneezing, or even talking. Contaminated surfaces are also target areas. Regularly wash your hands and if you have the flu, stay home.
- Take antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines in pill, liquid, inhaled, or intravenous form that fight against the flu. If you contract the flu and are part of a high risk group or otherwise concerned about your health, contact your doctor for treatment.
- Build a strong immune system. Just like exercising to get six-pack abs or run faster, you can build up a strong immune system to defend against threats like the fly. Your entire body benefits from healthy living—eat lots of fruits and veggies, exercise regularly, get lots of sleep, keep stress at manageable levels.
Keep in mind that regular, moderate exercise can reduce respiratory infections by a third. That’s good incentive to get on out there and move your body. You’ll feel better and the flu won’t catch you.