The 2016-2017 flu season is here. Which really isn’t news; it’s usually here. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this year’s season will follow the regular pattern: outbreaks will start in October, and will impact the U.S. population as late as May. That’s an interesting fact; if you think about it, there are actually just four months (June thru September) when the influenza virus isn’t something to worry about.
So basically, two-thirds of every year could be considered flu season! 66% of the time, the flu’s in play.
And that means 100% of the time, you’ve got to be on your anti-flu game. We’ve compiled a list of 5 things you must do in order to keep the flu at bay. Give yourself and your loved ones the best chance to avoid the flu altogether. Here we go:
5 Tips for Avoiding the 2016-2017 Flu Season
Get a flu shot. A flu shot drastically reduces the chance you’ll catch the flu. And you don’t need a primary care physician for one; in fact, places like Urgent Care Extra offer fast and affordable flu shots.
Take care of your hands. And they’ll take care of you. The flu virus is commonly transmitted with germs we get on our hands. So it makes sense to thoroughly wash your hands multiple times per day. If possible, use a hand sanitizer solution, too. Alcohol-based sanitizers are effective in killing the flu virus.
Avoid unnecessary contact with sick people. Seems obvious, but definitely worth mentioning. If you’re caring for a friend or family member with the flu, keep the get-well hugs to yourself. Limit contact, and you’ll also limit your chances of getting the flu.
Be healthy. Or, if your lifestyle habits aren’t optimal, be healthier. A strong immune system is critical in fighting the flu (and avoiding it, too), so eat right, get enough sleep, exercise – basically, if you’re healthy, you’re better equipped to handle viruses. The flu really doesn’t like robust health.
Take your Vitamin C. Oranges, supplements, whatever – Vitamin C is a proven immune-system booster, and the flu season is the perfect time to increase intake. Aim for at least double the recommended daily allowance, which would be around 120 mg per day.
Pay Attention to Warning Signs: Flu Prevention and Treatment Tips
Despite all the best precautions, some people are more prone to catch the flu than others. This group includes young children, the elderly and those that are already sick. A compromised immune system (when the body is dealing with other viruses or autoimmune disorders, for example) opens the door to acquire the influenza virus. Sometimes, the most disciplined flu prevention tips simply won’t work. As a result, you should be aware of the flu’s early warning signals, including:
- Trouble breathing
- Pain in the abdominal area or chest
- Sudden confusion or “mental fog”
These symptoms can precede the flu, and are most common during the week 8 to week 10 period of each flu season; for example, the flu spiked during the 2015-2016 flu season at the week 10 mark. Late November to early December is when the most flu cases are diagnosed and treated – and you should expect the same for the 2016-2017 flu season.
The 2016-2017 Flu Season: FAQs
At Urgent Care Extra, we field thousands of questions from our patients about the flu virus. The flu doesn’t change that much season to season – just enough to create a health concern. Here are some of the most common questions people are asking about the 2016 flu:
When does flu Season start?
The 2015-2016 flu season is pretty much over, and the 2016-2017 flu season is getting ready to start. Flu seasons typically run from the autumn to the spring. Sometimes, the flu season can start earlier and last longer. But, generally, it lasts 8-9 months every year.
I want to protect my family for the 2016-2017 flu season. How can I tell the difference between a cold and the flu?
Flu symptoms – eye fatigue, general muscle pain, headaches, coughing, fever and overall discomfort – arrive suddenly, with very little advance warning. A common cold (which has many similar symptoms, except for a fever) takes a few days to fully contract, so warning signs are easier to detect.
If I get the flu, what are the best treatment methods?
The first thing you should do is rest. Once you’re settled in, drink plenty of fluids (orange juice and water are always a great idea). And, if possible, avoid contact with other people. This can help shorten the duration of the flu inside you, and also prevent spread to friends, family and acquaintances. Antiviral drugs like Tamiflu and Relenza have been shown to reduce the flu’s duration by 2-3 days, especially if they’re taken within the first day of getting the influenza virus.
Will the 2016-2017 flu virus be different than last year’s?
Absolutely – and that’s why the flu is so serious. Through a process called “drift and shift,” the flu virus always mutates from the previous year’s version – and sometimes changes during the flu season. Expect similar patterns to emerge during the 2016-2017 flu season; it’s not uncommon for two or three flu shots to become available, because the virus is always morphing into a different strain.
Urgent Care Extra has flu shots, along with regular medical care to help you deal with injuries, sickness and any other immediate need. Stop by our urgent care clinics in Arizona and Nevada, or call our main support line at (480) 988-9108 to learn more about UCE. Thanks for reading the Urgent Care Extra blog!