As the leaves change and the temperature drops, we welcome the fall and winter seasons. Unfortunately, along with cozy sweaters and holiday festivities, these seasons also bring the annual flu season. Staying informed and prepared is essential to protect yourself and your loved ones. In this guide, we’ll cover what you need to know about the flu season in 2023 and how to stay healthy. The flu, or influenza, is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and, in some cases, lead to hospitalization or death. It typically peaks during the fall and winter months.
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from the flu is through vaccination. The flu vaccine is updated annually to match the predominant strains expected for the season. It’s recommended for everyone aged six months and older. Be sure to get vaccinated early in the season, as it takes a couple of weeks for the immunity to develop fully.
Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and often include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, and fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, it’s essential to stay home to prevent spreading the virus to others.
In addition to vaccination, practicing good hygiene is key to flu prevention. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and avoid close contact with sick individuals. Regularly disinfect commonly touched surfaces. If you do begin to feel sick, stay home whenever possible and wear a mask when you’re in public.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projects that the upcoming fall and winter respiratory disease season will likely see a comparable number of total hospitalizations to the previous year. In alignment with the trend observed last year, hospitalization rates are expected to surpass those observed before the COVID-19 pandemic, during a period when severe respiratory illness was primarily attributed to the influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
It is crucial to note the potential for a scenario where hospitalizations this season could exceed those of the previous year. This heightened possibility is linked to the potential for more widespread illness, posing challenges to the healthcare system’s capacity and resilience. As we navigate through this season, staying informed and implementing preventive measures remains imperative in managing the impact of respiratory diseases.
If you do get sick with the flu, antiviral medications prescribed by a healthcare provider can help reduce the severity and duration of your illness. These are most effective when taken early in the course of the illness. The medications available are the following:
Certain groups, such as young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and individuals with underlying health conditions, are at higher risk for severe complications from the flu. It’s especially important for these individuals to get vaccinated.
Keep an eye on flu activity in your area. Public health organizations, like the CDC, provide regular updates on flu trends and vaccine availability. Staying informed can help you make timely decisions regarding vaccination and preventive measures.
If you’re planning to travel during flu season, take precautions. Consider getting vaccinated before your trip, practice good hygiene during travel, and be aware of any flu outbreaks in your destination.
Your local pharmacy can be an excellent resource for flu vaccinations and information. Reach out to us for vaccine availability and any special flu-related services we offer. Remember, protecting yourself from the flu is not only about your health but also about community health. By taking steps to prevent the spread of the flu, you’re helping to protect those who are more vulnerable to its effects