The flu is at an all-time high in recent months with spiked activity in 25 U.S. states. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,100 people have died from the flu and another 39,000 have been hospitalized in the last months of 2019. There are still several months of the flu season left to go in the early months of 2020.
With nasty, stubborn cases of the flu and multiple strands of the influenza circulating around locally in Los Ranchos–and all over the country as well–here are some things you need to know.
The flu can mimic other common cold weather ailments, like colds. Colds are rampant this time of year, with Los Ranchos urgent care centers citing the six most diagnosed conditions of 2016 as acute sinusitis, cough, respiratory infections, acute pharyngitis, and fever. With these common illnesses underfoot, it is reasonable to assume you may have a cold, not the flu. Unfortunately the flu can be deadly, especially among very young children (under five), Americans 65+, and U.S. men and women with weakened immune systems. With serious complications and death at stake, it is important to know the difference. Know how to distinguish between colds and the flu, and don’t hesitate to visit Los Ranchos urgent care clinics if you are uncertain or if your symptoms get worse over time.
How do you know if you have a cold or the flu? In nearly all cases colds present with a runny or stuffy nose, unlike the flu. Sneezing can accompany the flu but it is much less common. On the other hand, fevers, chills, headaches, and body aches are much more indicative of the flu than the common cold.
Unfortunately the answer here is just about everything. While that’s not strictly true, the flu is very, very contagious and utterly spreadable. Elevator buttons, door handles, keyboards, and mouses can hold and trap flu germs for up to 48 hours! Plus, people who have the flu can be contagious for a full 24 hours before they even start showing any outward signs or symptoms. Once someone is visibly and obviously sick, influenza germs fester and remain contagious for five to seven days. Physically touching objects with flu germs is a near-guaranteed way to come down with the flu. However, influenza can spread in air, too. Coming in close contact to anyone who speaks, coughs, or sneezes during the flu season can infect you with the virus, too.
Always cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and purchase disinfecting wipes to clean frequently used surfaces. Wash your hands regularly, and remember that hand sanitizer generally only protects you from bacteria–not viruses like the flu.
The 2019-2020 flu season has been especially concerning this year, with influenza levels at a high for seven weeks and counting and as many as 22 young children dying in recent months. Take your child to a local Los Ranchos urgent care center or emergency room if you notice any of the following:
Worrying symptoms are similar in adults, with difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness, and high fever being most common.
If you have been lucky enough to avoid the flu this season, remember that it’s not over yet. There is still plenty of time to get the flu vaccine. The flu shot is 60% effective, and available at local pharmacies as well as Los Ranchos urgent care clinics free of cost with most insurance plans.
The flu is not something to balk at. Severe cases of the flu can result in complications requiring hospitalization, and the most severe cases can result in death. Get a diagnosis if you are uncertain whether you have the cold or the flu, know how it’s spread, know the most severe signs, and get vaccinated if you have not already.