Flu season is about to officially end, but it seems we are never safe and sound from viruses that cause the cold and flu. As the southern part of the country was hit hard in the last couple of weeks with the worst weather it has experienced in many years, I found myself glued to the Weather Channel.
As the meteorologists reviewed the countries dismal winter situation over and over again, the channel occasionally broke in with “Facts about the Flu”. So I borrow these comments from much of the information seen on the show.
- The flu vaccine does not cause the flu. Being a nurse, and a yearly recipient of the flu vaccine, I found it interesting that as many as 175 million Americans opt out of the vaccine. Especially since this vaccine is the number one way to control the illness. The flu vaccine provides the body with a way to become used to certain viruses and fight back by building antibodies. Here is another interesting fact, the segment went on to share that since it takes at least 2 weeks to build these antibodies, if people happened to contract the flu before that time, it is a common misunderstanding to assume the vaccine was the cause.
- Antibiotics do not combat the common cold and flu. Another common response is for people who contract the cold or flu virus to run to their physicians looking for antibiotic prescriptions. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections which are genetically very different from viruses so antibiotics are a poor choice to combat the common cold which is a virus.
- Everyone is at risk for the flu. The program segment also stated a second fact that the general public believes that only the elderly are at risk for the flu. And while the person who is 65 and older is in the age group with the largest number of deaths from the flu, it is a younger population, between the ages of 18-64, infected with these viruses who take up 57% of the hospital beds in America. Isn’t that amazing! 57% of hospital admissions for influenza are from the younger population. Interesting fact since people in this age group are typically the caregivers for the elderly population. As caregivers, we know we have to manage our environment, and maintain a level of health so that we can continue the rigorous efforts of caregiving.
So in review, it makes good sense to take the flu vaccine every year. If you dodged influenza this year without the vaccine, look at the research and think about getting the immunization next year. Research is on the side of the flu vaccine!
If even after your best attempts to avoid the cold or flu this year, you find yourself worn out and with no energy, don’t hesitate to seek help. Some of the best short term support can come from places such as personal care private duty services. Give yourself a break, investigate the options, ask questions, seek some help before you find yourself exhausted and in a pickle!
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