Here’s what the latest numbers show about the flu season
According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s flu virus could be a doozy. The CDC is calling the number of people seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms “high” in Illinois and Wisconsin.
“Vaccination, albeit not as good this year, still plays an essential part in either preventing the flu or decreasing its severity,” says Dr. Syed Abbas, a family doctor at the new Advocate Outpatient Center in West Dundee, IL. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season.
Beyond vaccination, Abbas stresses the importance of proper handwashing to protect yourself from the flu. That means wet your hands with clean water, apply soap and scrub every surface of your hands for 15-20 seconds before you rinse your hands with clean water. If you need a way to keep track, sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
“If you get the flu, hydration is number one,” Abbas says. “Drink plenty of fluids, control your symptoms with medications like acetaminophen and see a doctor to get tested.” Beyond that, “never underestimate the power of rest,” Abbas said.
To protect those around you, stay home from work or school if you feel sick. The flu is contagious and can be very serious, especially for people 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes or heart disease. The virus can spread before symptoms start and continues to be contagious for 5 to 7 days after you get sick.
“If seen by your doctor, there may be medications that you can take to shorten the length of the flu,” concluded Abbas.
About the Author
Kristen Johnson, health enews contributor, is a public affairs and marketing manager with Advocate Aurora Health. She previously worked as a speechwriter and staffer on Capitol Hill. She enjoys running marathons, good coffee and exploring Chicago’s many neighborhoods.