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Preparing for Flu Season
During an average flu season, the Department of Public Health reports, 36,000 Americans die and more than 200,000 suffer complications that lead to hospital visits. A respiratory illness sometimes confused for a common cold, influenza produces symptoms of high fever, headache, muscle ache and extreme fatigue, and complications springing from the virus can leave patients battling bacterial pneumonia, ear infections and dehydration.
With flu season starting this month, the department offers you these tips to keep your family healthy:
- It's best to get your flu vaccination early, usually sometime in October or November.
- Since a particular season's influenza strain may not be the same as the last season's, you should get vaccinated every year.
- Before getting this season's vaccination, you should consult a physician if you have a severe allergy to chicken eggs, if you developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within six weeks after getting an influenza vaccine previously, or if you are currently ill with fever.
- Because the virus can survive outside the body for several hours, you should wash your hands thoroughly or use an alcohol-based hand rub, particularly before you touch common surfaces.
- If you find yourself ill, drink caffeine-free fluids to prevent dehydration, take a non-aspirin pain reliever to reduce fever, and make an appointment to see your physician. If you're within 48 hours of suffering flu symptoms, your physician may be able to write you a prescription for either oseltamivir (Tamiflu®) or zanamivir (Relenza®), two approved antiviral medications.
Visit the Department of Public Health to learn more about influenza and how your family can stay safe.