Health & Wellness

Everything You Need to Know About Flu Season This Year

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Flu season is all the time a priority: It’s resulted in up to 45 million diseases and 61,000 deaths in the United States annually since 2010, in accordance to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, this yr the flu is compounded by COVID-19, which shares many comparable traits. While the unfold of the flu and COVID-19 concurrently may significantly burden the healthcare system, it is also potential that mitigation efforts to stop coronavirus an infection may assist higher shield us from the flu this yr.

Here’s every part you want to know in regards to the 2020 to 2021 flu season, and how one can finest shield your self. And for the locations you need to keep away from proper now, take a look at These Are the 4 Places People Went Before They Got COVID, Study Says.

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Although there aren’t any ensures, this is some constructive information to begin with: Australia and different nations within the Southern Hemisphere have already had gentle flu seasons this yr, which could counsel a milder season for the U.S. as effectively, in accordance to the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Since locations like Australia expertise flu season sooner than the U.S., they typically mirror what’s to come within the Northern Hemisphere. “For example, last year there was a particularly bad flu season in Australia that presaged a bad flu season for us as well,” says David Aronoff, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

However, consultants warn that this can be a significantly distinctive yr with the presence of COVID-19, and that even a gentle flu season may overwhelm the well being system. What’s extra, colder temperatures and variations in prevention measures throughout the U.S. might yield completely different outcomes than what was seen within the Southern Hemisphere.

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Experts consider the milder flu season in Australia might be due to elements like social distancing and journey restrictions. In different phrases, the steps we’re taking to stop the unfold of COVID-19 may additionally assist to cut back the unfold of the flu. Like COVID-19, influenza is a respiratory pathogen, that means it is unfold by means of the breath from one individual to one other.

“Keeping our distance from other people, wearing cloth face coverings when we are in public and around other people, and paying close attention to hand hygiene are all likely to reduce the transmission of a range of respiratory tract viral infections, including influenza,” says Aronoff. “This is another really good reason why we should not let up on the strategies we are currently using to prevent transmission of COVID-19.”

And for extra on stopping the unfold, listed here are Dr. Fauci’s Top 10 Tips to Keep You Safe From COVID-19.

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This yr, the CDC says it is more important than ever to get your flu shot. Even although the flu vaccine will not shield towards COVID-19, it has been proven to cut back the chance of flu, hospitalization, and demise.

What’s extra, defending your self towards the flu will save healthcare sources for the care of COVID-19 sufferers, because it’s probably each the flu and the virus that causes COVID-19 will unfold all through the autumn and winter.

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When you get your flu shot this yr, you will even be defending these in danger round you.

“The flu shot reduces the severity of symptoms and shortens the amount of time that someone is contagious,” says Aronoff. “If we pair that with social distancing measures, face coverings, and closer attention to hand hygiene, all of that could really add up to a greatly weakened influenza season, which would be reason to celebrate.”

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Although some have questioned if the flu vaccine provide chain may be disrupted this yr, Anthony Fauci, MD, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), confirmed this would not be the case in an interview with the American College of Cardiology.

“We’re going to deliver the seasonal influenza vaccine the same way we do every year,” stated Fauci. “The vaccines will be commercially available and given at the doctor’s office, in pharmacies, and all the different places it’s usually given.”

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This is one other essential purpose to get your flu shot: It’ll aid you keep away from a case of pneumonia, which may additionally happen in tandem with COVID-19.

“It’s always important to get the flu shot, because it does prevent influenza,” says Aronoff. “But it also seems to protect against pneumonia, possibly because some people get bacterial pneumonia as a complication of influenza.”

The flu is a standard reason behind pneumonia, significantly in youthful kids, aged adults, pregnant girls, and people with sure continual well being situations, in accordance to the American Lung Association. Flu circumstances that lead to pneumonia will be extreme and lethal. And for extra in your respiratory well being, take a look at 17 Warning Signs Your Lungs Are Trying to Send You.

One woman infected with virus and sick. sleeping in home, using face mask, handkerchief and toilet paper on table
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While it is essential to get your flu shot, you will have to wait till you are wholesome to achieve this should you’re identified with COVID-19. The CDC has released guidance stating that knowledge on the results of giving the flu vaccination to individuals with COVID-19 is proscribed, so clinicians ought to contemplate delaying administering flu shot to sufferers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 till they’re not unwell.

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It’s essential to know the signs of each the flu and COVID-19 so that you and your physician can precisely diagnose your situation. Testing could also be required to verify a prognosis since flu and COVID-19 share many characteristics, in accordance to the CDC.

They each might lead to signs resembling fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or issue respiratory, fatigue, sore throat, runny or stuffy nostril, muscle ache or physique aches, and headache. With each diseases, a number of days can go between an infection and if you begin to expertise signs. And for extra indicators of coronavirus, These Are the 51 Most Common COVID Symptoms You Could Have.

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Because the flu and COVID-19 share many comparable signs, there is a chance that testing could also be strained. The similar reagents—the substances wanted to conduct the exams—are required for each flu and COVID-19, which can improve demand, in accordance to UCSF.

However, within the interview with the American College of Cardiology, Fauci stated he was hopeful {that a} take a look at designed to detect each flu and COVID-19 could be out there this fall.

“I hope by the time we get to the fall, the problems we’ve seen with testing availability and turnaround time will be solved and people will be able to go to a doctor’s office and get tested for both influenza and COVID,” stated Fauci. “It’s not standard right now, but there are a number of companies that have started to work on a test that can test for both of them simultaneously.”

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While a take a look at might be wanted to make a particular prognosis, one key symptom that may warn you to a COVID-19 an infection versus the flu: a change in your sense of style or odor.

“With influenza, we don’t typically see anosmia, which means a loss of sense of smell or a change in our sense of taste,” says Aronoff. “Influenza also does not quite have the tendency to cause the kinds of neurological problems we’re seeing with COVID-19.” And for extra useful info delivered straight to your inbox, join our day by day publication.

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By now, you have gotten used to continuously washing your fingers or utilizing hand sanitizer to stop the unfold of COVID-19. Healthy hand hygiene will proceed to be essential all through the flu season.

“Our greetings have changed significantly—we don’t shake hands anymore, we’re unlikely to hug or kiss people we haven’t seen in a long time, and we’re paying close attention to cleaning our hands,” says Aronoff. “Those things in and of themselves are likely to interrupt the transmission of influenza.”

Washing your fingers typically might help cease the unfold of germs and decrease the chance of respiratory diseases just like the flu, says the CDC. If you’ll be able to’t wash your fingers with cleaning soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Regular handwashing and good hygienic habits had been related to a decrease threat of influenza an infection in a 2016 examine revealed within the journal Medicine (Baltimore).

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This yr, carrying face coverings will proceed to be an essential a part of stopping COVID-19 transmission—nevertheless it may also be the primary yr they’re used routinely for flu prevention.

“The use of face coverings unquestionably has the power to reduce the threat of influenza,” says Aronoff. “I could see a situation in future years where we see the routine deployment of face coverings quite voluntarily during the winter months. I think we’re just now fully embracing these inexpensive habits that are fundamental for hygiene because of the horrible pandemic of COVID-19.”

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People with flu can unfold it to others up to round six toes away, and it is thought that flu viruses are primarily unfold by means of respiratory droplets when an contaminated individual coughs, sneezes, or talks, in accordance to the CDC. You’re most contagious with the flu within the first three to 4 days after you get sick, however most wholesome adults can infect others starting someday earlier than signs develop—which is why it will be so essential to proceed to observe social distancing tips this flu season.

“We need to make sure we get across that the things we should be doing for the containment of COVID-19 are directly applicable to influenza as well,” stated Fauci within the American College of Cardiology interview. “Keeping a distance of six feet, avoiding crowds, and avoid crowded places like bars—and in fact, maybe even close the bars in some places.”

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The flu circulates all year long, however flu exercise within the U.S. tends to start growing in October, in accordance to the CDC. This might pose a problem this yr, since colder climate might pressure extra individuals indoors and in shut quarters with each other, which additionally will increase the chance for COVID-19 transmission.

It’s finest to get your flu shot by the tip of the October, says the CDC. In the U.S. flu exercise sometimes peaks between December and February.

Senior adult man gets prescription medicines out of his medicine cabinet
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While there is not a vaccine or remedy for COVID-19 but, medicines which might be sometimes used to deal with the flu may be used to relieve comparable signs in COVID-19 sufferers this flu season.

Antiviral medicines are at the moment present process testing to decide in the event that they can be utilized to cut back or eradicate COVID-19 signs, in accordance to the Rochester Regional Health system in New York. For now, should you take a look at constructive for COVID-19, ask your physician about over-the-counter medicines which will assist along with your signs.

Certain issues that you just do to really feel higher when you may have the flu—like staying well-hydrated, getting sufficient relaxation, and taking medicines to cut back fever or aches and pains—may additionally aid you really feel higher when you may have COVID-19, in accordance to Harvard Medical School.

And whereas antibiotics will not remedy COVID-19, a health care provider might prescribe them in extreme circumstances, in accordance to the University of Maryland Medical System: Viruses like COVID-19 that assault the lungs and cease them from totally inflating might lead to a secondary bacterial an infection, which antibiotics might help with.

Senior woman discusses her prescription medication with a doctor via video conference. The woman is using a digital tablet.
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It’s potential to take a look at constructive for the flu (and different respiratory infections) concurrently COVID-19, says the CDC.

“This is one of the reasons we’re concerned about the co-circulation of these two viruses at the same time in our population,” says Aronoff. “Statistically, the more COVID-19 activity we have coupled with more influenza activity, the more likely it is that somebody is going to be the unlucky recipient of both infections at the same time. We don’t know what that means for that individual’s health, but I can’t imagine it’s a good scenario.”

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Ultimately, there’s nonetheless a lot to be realized about this flu season and the way it’ll be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think we need to be honest and say upfront that we’re really not sure what’s going to happen,” stated Fauci within the American College of Cardiology interview. “The worst-case scenario is we have a very active flu season that overlaps with the respiratory infection of COVID-19.”

However, he famous that there’s one other potential state of affairs that epidemiologists sometimes see: It’s potential that when a respiratory an infection just like the seasonal influenza comes alongside throughout one other ongoing rampant respiratory sickness, there’s solely sufficient room for certainly one of them—that means the rampant sickness dominates and “bumps out” the opposite one.

The finest steps you’ll be able to take proper now to shield your self embrace getting your flu shot and persevering with to observe widespread COVID-19 tips (like carrying a face masking in public, sustaining a distance of six toes from these you do not reside with, and washing your fingers recurrently).

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