Influenza, or more commonly known as the ‘flu’, is a highly contagious respiratory illness. While you can get sick with the flu any day of the year, it usually happens in the colder months of the year. This time of the year is fast approaching in the southern hemisphere. For some people, this may be a yearly nuisance that disturbs the quality of life. You could be enjoying a glorious winter day, without a thought to the annoyance of a runny nose and other flu symptoms, until it hits you suddenly. However, if people are unvaccinated or if flu symptoms go untreated, there may be dire consequences. Many people die from complications with influenza.
A silver lining of the Coronavirus pandemic that has impacted the world is that people are more conscious of their health. Societies are abiding with measures that help against the spread of infections of the respiratory illness, which includes the flu as well. What this means for you is that you would be less likely to catch the flu this time around. The new normal of wearing masks, frequent hand washing, and social distancing apparently help reduce the spread of the flu as well.
In most parts of the world, countries are reporting a decrease in the number of flu cases as a by-product of the efforts to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. Australia reports a significant drop in flu cases due to the lockdown measures in place. For the week ending 26 April, only 0.2% of Australians had flu-like symptoms. In comparison to the data from the same period last year, it was 1.4%.
Despite this, you should keep yourself informed about the flu so you can be aware of the prevention measures and the proper treatments.
Most people have the following symptoms whenever they suddenly come on to the flu:
Below are a few easy steps to help prevent the spread of flu; you may already be doing some of these tips due to the pandemic, but it’s well worth emphasising to make sure you’re doing it right.
Unlike the Coronavirus, there is already a vaccine developed specifically for the flu. Flu vaccinations are should be done every year to continue being protected from the illness. The vaccine effectivity lasts for about 3-4 months and is largely dependent on the types of flu, as this may change over time. Australians are encouraged to get their flu vaccinations as soon as possible to reduce the risk of contracting both influenza and coronavirus.
One of the best ways to keep the illnesses from spreading is to practise good hygiene. Washing your hands regularly, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces/items, and avoiding face touching are some of the ways to get rid of germs and stop the spread of the virus.
You also need to keep your surroundings clean for it not to become a breeding ground for viruses. Throw away tissues or masks littering your room and disinfect as often as you reasonably can. Avoid sharing food/utensils/other items with people as well to avoid spreading illness-causing germs.
Eating well, doing short stretches or exercises, and sleeping well can do wonders for your immune system. At a time like this, making the effort to take better care of your body is none-negotiable. You need to keep your body in tip-top shape and ready to combat the effects of illness.
If you do get sick with flu symptoms, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises you to stay home and avoid contact with other people, except if you need medical care. Medications or antiviral drugs can help treat flu symptoms.
By being proactive against the spread of the flu, you can help others from contracting it. Also, you can enjoy the cold season without worrying about a runny nose.