I had the flu 8 years, 5 days, 19 minutes and 26 seconds ago. Ok, I may not know exactly when I got it, but I do remember those sick days like they were yesterday. I was sick as a dog and remember feeling the worst I’ve ever felt in my life.
Actual photo of me with the flu
If, like me, you’ve ever fallen victim to the debilitating influenza virus you are familiar with the fever, chills, body aches, fatigue, weakness, headache, and even vomiting or diarrhea (more common in children than adults) that come with it. It took me a good month to recover from these symptoms.
Knowing how terrible it is, I want to do whatever it takes to protect myself and loved ones this year. Knowing the facts is critical. Here are a few questions I asked Dr. Garrett-Price and Dr. Aleena Kurien, Family Medicine Practitioners at Baylor Scott & White Direct Care, and their answers.
- How is the flu spread?
- When is flu season?
- Who is at high risk for developing flu-related complications?
- Should I get vaccinated and when?
- What are the best lifestyle prevention techniques?
Dr. Garrett-Price says that “most experts think that the flu is spread mainly by droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk. And, did you know that the flu can spread to others up to six feet away?” Okay, this blew my mind. Six feet is farther than I am tall! If this doesn’t put into perspective how powerful the flu virus is, I don’t know what will.
I used to think that the flu was only during the winter months (which in Texas means maybe January). But, Dr. Garret-Price told me that, “the timing of the flu is often unpredictable and varies for different parts of the country. Traditionally it’s October – March but flu activity peaks between December – March.”
Y’all, not to scare you, but traditionally flu season is now. So, keep reading!
- Children younger than 5
- Adults 65 years of age or older
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes or other longer-term care facilities
- American Indians and Alaskan natives
In Dr. Garrett Price’s opinion, “barring any contraindications or allergies, everyone 6-months and older should get vaccinated.” He also notes that “it takes about two weeks after vaccination for the body’s immune response to fully develop and for you to be protected.” So, since flu season began in October, basically, get vaccinated yesterday?
Wash Your Hands
Okay, sounds obvious right? But, are you washing the right way to protect the spread of germs? I once learned that you should wash your hands with hot, soapy water and long enough to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Kids will love singing Happy Birthday every day when they wash their hands…but you might hate me so feel free to vary up the song choices. Just make sure the hand-washing goes on for at least 20 seconds!
Cover Your Cough
When I asked Dr. Kurien how to teach kids flu prevention she responded with, “do the dab!” This is genius. Have y’all seen all the kids these days doing “the dab”? If you haven’t check out this video. The idea of “doing the dab” may have gone viral a couple of years ago, but this is the type of “viral” we want to keep circulating. So, teach your kids (and yourselves) this fun way of “covering your cough” and how to stop the spreading of germs.
If You Are Sick, Stay home!
Don’t tough it out and go to work because you have that important meeting or deadline. Not only will this delay your recovery, but you will get everyone else sick around you (even if you are taking the Happy Birthday hand-washing and “dab” precautions). So do us all a favor and please get some rest at home!
Finally, I think it goes without saying…but I will say it anyway…if you think you have the flu seek prompt medical attention from your primary care physician.