Every year, the flu season whips through Boulder City like a flash flood. It seems that as soon as one person gets the flu every relative and friend of theirs is sick by the end of the week.
No one likes being sick, having to miss work or school, or being shackled up in bed for a few days. So there are some safety tips we can take to minimize our chances of catching the flu virus.
The flu is more commonly known in the medical field as influenza. Influenza is a strain, or many different strains, of a virus that is commonly found in humans, mammals and birds. The most common flu that affects us is the seasonal flu.
The timing of flu season can be very unpredictable and can vary from year to year, however, flu season typically runs from November to March, with its peak season between December and February.
The flu virus is contagious. The flu virus is spread through person-to-person contact. Someone with the flu can spread the virus to others from as much as 6 feet away.
When people sneeze, cough or talk, small droplets fly through the air and land on others’ eyes, noses, mouths or are inhaled into their lungs. Just as common is touching something that has been used or touched by someone who has the flu.
Once the virus has begun to develop inside the body you can spread the virus, even after one day, or four or five days before you start to show signs or symptoms of the flu.
The signs and symptoms of the flu include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, tiredness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If left untreated for a period of time, the virus can spread and fester to greater medical problems. Influenza can lead to respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia, and can also lead to sinus and ear infections.
The best way to prevent getting the flu is by taking preventative measures. The most effective way is by washing your hands multiple times a day with soap and water, or by using an alcohol-based hand wash. Avoid sharing utensils with someone who has the flu.
The CDC recommends that anyone over the age of 6 get the seasonal flu shot. The flu shot is the CDC’s best attempt to predict the season’s strain of flu virus and combat it before it becomes a problem. The flu shot is a common vaccine and is available in most drug stores and through your primary care physician.
If you can any other questions regarding the flu virus, feel free to contact me at the fire station or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Shea is a Boulder City paramedic/firefighter.