Flu season is ramping up and experts are concerned it may be especially severe this year. For one, the southern hemisphere experienced a sharp increase in cases which may translate to an uptick in the northern hemisphere. Additionally, all of our masking over the past couple of winters may have weakened our immunity against influenza.
Influenza, or the flu, can come on very suddenly, with symptoms of fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, nasal congestion or runny nose, muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, and profound tiredness. Certain flu strains also carry a higher likelihood of causing symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.
Usually, people experience just a few of these more predominant symptoms, and recovery time ranges from a few days to a couple of weeks. However, secondary infections (like bacterial pneumonia or sepsis) can also occur. Less commonly, the flu can cause multi-organ failure, brain inflammation, heart inflammation, or muscle tissue conditions. While anyone can experience a complication from the flu, they are far more likely in people with chronic illnesses, suppressed immune systems, or at the ends of the age spectrum (the very young or very old).
Precautions to take
The flu is highly preventable, and we are all essentially experts at flu prevention, having lived through the COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid contracting a respiratory virus like the flu, avoid close contact with people who are sick, cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated, and wear masks when in crowded places.
The number one prevention tip is, of course, to get a flu shot. Studies show that getting a flu vaccination reduces the risk of contracting the flu between 40% and 60% among the overall population.
Flu shots contain different strains of the influenza virus and when you get a flu shot, your immune system essentially practices its defense response. This way, should you contract influenza your immune system will be familiar with the virus and have a higher chance of eliminating it.
Several types of flu vaccines are available this season. The CDC recommends flu shots for everyone aged 6 months and older, but this year they are relaying special considerations for the 65 and older crowd as this age demographic is at higher risk for developing complications associated with the flu. The CDC recommends the following vaccines for people 65 years and older:
- Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine
- Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine
- Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine
When you get a flu shot, your immune system will get a chance to try out its defense tactics on the inactivated (killed) forms of the flu viruses. Think of a boxer practicing for a match by hitting a punching bag. When your immune system encounters one of these influenza viruses in the wild, it will already know its opponent’s weaknesses, and it will have a much higher chance of knocking its lights out before you’re even aware of what’s going on.
Experts have been vocal about their worries of a twindemic from rising Covid-19 cases and simultaneous spikes in influenza. But a third virus is on the horizon that could add even more complications this winter season. R.S.V, a respiratory virus, is already running rampant across pediatric hospitals.
It’s still too early in the season to be able to predict with a degree of certainty, the extent of each virus. But now is the time to start taking precautions. Flu vaccines, COVID-19 vaccines (and boosters, if eligible) are vital defensive resources against the oncoming wave of illness. And, as always, masking up in public and practicing social distancing are also effective strategies for mitigating illness in your household this winter.
And if you do contract the flu or virus, our vitamin IV therapies effectively replenish your body with essential nutrients. Additionally, studies have shown that Vitamin C IV therapies reduce fatigue and fatigue-related symptoms common to Long COVID.
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