This flu season has been especially dangerous. In fact, the New York Times recently reported that the flu hospitalization rate in California has increased four times from the 2014-2015 flu season, which was also severe.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during the 2014-2015 flu season, approximately 34 million Americans contracted the flu, with about 710,000 hospitalizations and around 56,000 deaths. The CDC predicts that the current flu season is on track to equal or surpass 2014-2015.
People are falling ill all over the country and the hospitalization rate for flu cases has increased. In fact, health departments in every state except Hawaii have reported “widespread” flu activity for three weeks in a row. There have been more than 37 child deaths related to the flu this season.
Preventing the Flu
Although flu season is in full swing, the CDC still recommends that individuals get the flu shot. While both young children and older Americans are especially at risk for flu-related complications, this year folks between ages 50-64 are at the most risk behind the elderly. However, only about 41% of individuals in that age group have gotten flu shots.
One of the best things you can do to prevent the flu is to stay healthy and keep your immune system strong. The Cleveland Clinic recommends getting plenty of sleep, washing hands thoroughly (and often), eating a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, making sure you’re getting enough Vitamin D, and considering including a multivitamin in your daily routine.
Got the Flu? Here’s What to Do
The Cleveland Clinic also created a handy chart to help you determine what to do if you do contract the flu this season. If you have the following symptoms, you may have the flu:
- Sore throat
- Runny/stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
If you think you have the flu, the best thing to do is stay home and prevent spreading it to others. Getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids will help you to recover and get back to your normal routine in no time! If your symptoms worsen or become more severe, however, it’s time to call a medical professional. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, pain/pressure in chest or abdomen, confusion, sudden dizziness, severe/persistent vomiting, and fever with a rash indicate that you need to seek medical help right away. If it feels like an emergency, call 911.
If you are considered high risk, you need to contact your doctor as soon as you start feeling ill. High risk individuals include those who are: over 65, pregnant, living in a nursing home/long term care facility, Native American, BMI of 40 or above, and those who have chronic conditions or a weakened immune system.
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