Good chance you’ve caught wind this winter of the particularly bad flu season we’re having
. And good chance, if there happen to be small children, seniors or people who otherwise struggle with health in your family, this worries you just a tad.
Count us among the concerned. Which is why we reached out to Mimi Gerber — longtime East Nashvillian and nurse practitioner/part owner at East Nashville Family Medicine
— to talk about ways to stay healthy as the season rolls on. And bless her, she offered a little bit of positivity to hold on to.
“I will say that we are seeing a drastic reduction in flu cases from December, when flu seemed to peak in Middle Tennessee,“ Gerber says.
That, of course, doesn’t mean we’re all clear. “We are still seeing some flu, and we may certainly see another peak with a different strain,” she says, “as flu season can last through April.”
So as we ride through the rest of the season, Gerber offered some helpful health advice, below.
4 Things We Can do to Fight The Flu
From East Nashville Family Medicine’s Mimi Gerber
Over 20,000 people in the U.S. die from complications of the flu each year, and the most vulnerable population includes pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illness and those 65 and older. Here are some basic prevention tips:
1. WASH THOSE HANDS
We all hear this over and over ad nauseam, but there's no debating that diligent hand washing is the first line of defense. Germs can be picked up from objects like handrails and shopping carts, and humans unknowingly touch their face frequently, facilitating entry into the respiratory tract.
2. STEER CLEAR OF SICK PEOPLE
Unlike colds, the flu can be spread by droplet, so if someone with the flu sneezes or coughs within six feet of you, you could be susceptible. Conversely, if you or your child has a fever and cough — the cardinal signs of flu, along with body aches — please stay home until your fever has been gone for 24 hours. The bad news is that flu is actually contagious about a day before developing symptoms, so you could be spreading the virus even before you feel sick.
3. CONSIDER VACCINATION
Even though the vaccine is not always a perfect match for all the viruses that end up striking, the vaccine protects against three to four different types of flu viruses. Children six months and up may receive the vaccine.
4. TALK TO YOUR HEALTH PROVIDER ABOUT ANTIVIRAL MEDICINES
Antiviral medicines (prescription only) can help lessen the course and the severity of the flu, primarily if initiated within 48 hours of becoming ill. The same medicine can also prevent the flu if you have had close contact with household members with the flu.