As parents, we take every precaution we can to prevent our families from getting sick. Sick days not only come with great physical and emotional stress but also loss of productivity and income. And coming out of a pandemic that took up so many of our resources, opportunities, and supposed adventures, the least anyone would want is to be held back again by diseases like the flu.
However, contracting illnesses like the flu is still something that we sometimes cannot control. “We need to be prepared, especially since we’re sending our kids back to face-to-face classes and are heading out for work, gatherings, or errands – all while in the middle of the flu season,” urged Dr. Jing Velasco-Aro, Vaccine Medical Head of GSK Philippines.
What should we do if someone in our family ends up getting the flu? Here’s a handy guide, as told by medical experts:
- DO consult your doctor: Once a family member starts feeling symptoms of the flu, it’s crucial to seek medical guidance from a professional. This is for proper evaluation and diagnosis, upon taking into account one’s symptoms and medical history.
“I can’t stress how important it is for people to seek out professional medical advice when it comes to dealing with any type of symptoms.” said Dr. Velasco-Aro. This is especially true for people who are at a higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. Young children, adults aged 65 years and older, those who are pregnant, and those with certain chronic health conditions face a larger possibility of falling gravely ill or even die upon contraction of the virus. Health professionals, after conducting a proper medical examination and review of one’s medical history, can properly assess one’s need for any type of treatment and/or immunization.
- DO get adequate rest: Taking the time to rest and recover will help alleviate flu symptoms faster, for this helps your body direct its energy toward your immune system while it battles the infection. This also prevents other people from catching the virus themselves. Get the right amount of sleep, and avoid activities that require physical effort or outside exposure.
- DO increase intake of fluids and eat healthy food: Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, including water, fruit juices, sports drinks, and clear soups. These keep the respiratory system hydrated, preventing mucus from building up. As for food, it’s a good idea to eat more leafy greens, and fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C like oranges, potatoes, broccoli, and tomatoes.
- DO watch out for emergency warning signs: When it comes to the flu, there are certain warning symptoms to watch out for that signal the need for urgent medical care. Some of these are:
● Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
● Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
● Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
● Not urinating
● Severe muscle pain
● Severe weakness or unsteadiness
● Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
● Worsening of chronic medical conditions The same warning signs apply to children, with the addition of:
● Bluish lips or face
● Ribs pulling in with each breath
● Severe muscle pain (child refuses to walk)
● Dehydration (no urine for 8 hours, dry mouth, no tears when crying)
● Not alert or interacting when awake
● Fever above 40°C
● In children less than 12 weeks, any fever
- DO get your annual flu vaccination:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites getting the annual flu vaccine as the best way to reduce your risk from seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications. Even after contracting the virus, it is highly recommended to ask one’s doctor about immunization to ensure added protection against future infections.
Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO), indicates that flu vaccination can generate savings for individuals, families, employers, and entire healthcare systems. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40% to 60%.9 This proves to be heavily significant, especially in the Philippines where the average monthly household income is Php 22,000 vis-à-vis the cost of hospitalization which research has shown can range from Php 10,000 to 30,000 per episode.8
The spread of viral diseases such as the flu can be unpredictable but they are not totally unpreventable. As with other infectious diseases, one important aspect of flu treatment is taking steps to sure that the virus doesn’t spread around and infect others as well. Encouraging our loved ones to get vaccinated can help prevent the spread of flu among households, and consequently among communities. Once you have the natural defenses that the vaccine provide, nothing can stop you from achieving greatness this year.