Every winter, we are given the same reminders: take your vitamins, stay home when you are sick, wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces in your home. The most important reminder? Above all else (and assuming your doctor’s approval) make sure to get your flu shot!
Some of us heed this advice better than others, and each year, many of us avoid the flu while others are affected. However, this year seems to have delivered a particularly prevalent flu season. It’s been in the news, in our social circles and in some unfortunate cases, in our own homes. But is the flu really that terrible this year, or are we just hearing a lot of hype about a regular winter occurrence?
It’s true – this has been a terrible flu season
Sadly, it’s not hype. Alberta has been hit hard by the flu this winter, reporting 55 deaths to date (including 16 here in Edmonton). Over 2000 individuals are currently hospitalized with the flu in this province alone. For comparison, less than 1000 individuals were hospitalized with the flu this time last year, and 34 had died. This is a dramatic increase and certainly of concern to all of us at The Wooding Group, as we care about the health of our clients, colleagues and families.
Symptoms and high risk individuals
The flu has several strains, but is generally characterized by a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, muscle aches and pains and fatigue. In some cases, nausea, vomiting or digestive upset may be present. Seniors and children are particularly vulnerable to the flu, as well as nurses and other medical professionals, who are subject to more exposure in the workplace. The flu can be transmitted by direct contact (either physical touch or airborne exposure within two metres) or through germs left on surfaces. This is why cleaning and sanitizing is so important, and it may be advisable to wear a protective mask if visiting a sick friend or relative. Those caring for children or elderly relatives should be particularly cautious, as they could inadvertently spread the virus.
Avoiding the flu
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot, ask your medical professional if he or she advises doing so now. In the meantime, be sure to avoid contact with those who are known to be ill, and stay home if you yourself are sick. Wash your hands frequently and use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (particularly after being out in public or visiting a high exposure area, such as a hospital or doctor’s office). Cover your mouth when you cough and avoid touching your mouth or nose. Finally, when cleaning your home, wash your linens and sanitize flat surfaces as well as frequently touched items, such as light switches and door knobs. It also helps to disinfect keyboards and mobile devices!
During this terrible flu season, we wish you all good health. Follow these prevention tips and please, if you have the flu, seek help from a medical professional.