Seasonal flu is a significant health concern, especially for hospice and home health patients and their families. Paradigm’s recent blog post explains how flu shots are the best, most important step to preventing complications. This article includes additional steps you can take to keep your family healthy during flu season.
Everyday Actions to Protect Your Health This Season
When infected persons cough, sneeze, or talk, they can spread influenza viruses in respiratory droplets to people who are nearby. The virus can survive on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours, so people can get flu by touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching their own mouth or nose. Taking preventative action is important to help protect against germs during flu season:
Avoid close contact with other people – refrain from shaking hands, hugging, or kissing.
Maintain at least 3 feet of distance between you and others at public events – especially if they show symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or sniffling.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
Avoid touching frequently handled objects and surfaces when you are out and about. For example, limit contact with doorknobs, handrails, clipboards and pens at the doctor’s office.
Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu in your home or workplace. For example, wipe down faucet knobs or handles, remote controls, tissue boxes, and other objects that are frequently touched.
Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands immediately after.
Use disposable tissues to wipe or blow your nose, and throw the tissue in the trash immediately after.
Get adequate sleep – ideally eight hours a night – and rest as needed to maintain your energy and immune defenses.
Stay well-hydrated, eat nutritious foods, and continue exercising, all of which can help strengthen your system.
Combined with a flu shot, these everyday actions can reduce your risk of contracting the flu and other seasonal illnesses. Patients at increased risk of complications from flu should also consider additional medical interventions.
Pneumonia is a serious flu complication. The pneumonia illness results from either the influenza virus infection alone or from co-infection of flu virus and bacteria. Adults over 65 or living with chronic medical conditions should make sure they are up to date on their pneumonia vaccine. Unlike the annual flu shot, the pneumonia vaccine is given on a specific schedule. Talk with your doctor as soon as possible to understand whether you or your loved ones need a dose this season.
Antiviral drugs are prescription medications used to treat flu illness. Prompt treatment can mean the difference between having a milder illness versus a very serious illness that results in a hospital stay – especially for people at high risk of complications. Antiviral drugs work best when given within 48 hours of when symptoms start, so it is important to recognize fever, cough, sore throat, or body aches as soon as they begin.
If a loved one at high risk of flu complications develops flu symptoms, take them to see a doctor immediately. People at high risk include children under 5, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, people with certain long-term medical conditions, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. CDC recommends that people who are at high risk for serious complications and who experience flu symptoms get treated with antiviral drugs as quickly as possible without waiting for testing to confirm the flu.
Protect Your Health
Healthy habits and preventative and prompt medical care are important to protect yourself and your loved ones during flu season. Paradigm is committed to providing all our patients and their families with the information and support you need to live your best life this season and every season.