After months of play under the summer sun, the cool breeze in the air signals the beginning of fall. While this beloved season is filled with fan favorites like sweaters and pumpkins galore, another not-so-beloved addition joins in with the changing of the leaves: the flu, a highly contagious viral infection, makes its grand appearance from fall to winter.
What is the flu?
As one of the most known seasonal ailments, millions contract this contagious virus every year. The flu, also known as influenza, is a respiratory illness affecting the nose, throat, and the lungs. The virus is spread through respiratory transmission. This means that if an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks then the virus found with those respiratory particles can infect another person if inhaled or through contact with a mucous membrane.
Common symptoms of the flu include:
- Sore throat
- Congested nose
Some of these are also symptoms of COVID-19 and allergies, making it hard to determine the source of your sickness. Thankfully, here at Charleston Allergy and Asthma, we have a blog comparing these three illnesses to guide you. Nonetheless, it is important to get tested so you can follow a proper treatment plan.
While most see the flu as a temporary sickness, it can lead to severe complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections and more. After contracting the illness, you can remain contagious for up to four days, which is why it’s important to take careful precautions to protect yourself and others as soon as possible.
Suit up with the flu shot!
One of the most effective measures of preventing the contraction of this ailment is getting the flu shot. Not only does the flu shot reduce the risk and likelihood of illness and hospitalization, but it also protects against the worsening of chronic respiratory medical conditions. Since the influenza strain evolves each year, the shot itself is revised to combat the most recent strain present in the environment, making an annual vaccination that much more important.
Experts have historically recommended receiving vaccinations as soon as they become available. However, this stance has shifted to getting shots in late September/early October, with data showing effects lasting between four to six months.
It is no surprise that millions contract the flu, however, it does lead to thousands dying each year. Though the flu is only fatal for a small portion of the population, it is still important for us to do our part to keep those around us safe. As more community members are vaccinated, our herd immunity rises. This greatly reduces the spread of the disease and is especially important for protecting high-risk neighbors, such as those with asthma and other respiratory conditions. To learn more on the flu shot, visit our blog that discusses the ins and outs of the vaccine and its importance.
Allergies and Asthma: How are they affected?
When it comes to highly contagious illnesses, it is important to determine whether they will affect or worsen your allergies or asthma. While the flu may not cause allergies, if an individual with uncontrolled allergies gets the flu, this could worsen their symptoms and cause further congestion and discomfort.
On the other hand, this respiratory virus can greatly affect those with asthma. Vaccination is highly encouraged for those living with asthma or similar conditions as the best defense against this disease and related complications, such as serious respiratory infection.
Aside from the vaccine, here are other preventative measures you can take to stop the spread and keep asthma attacks at bay:
- Avoid contact with those who are sick
- Wear a face mask in high risk situations
- Wash your hands
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Avoid touching your face
- Clean frequently used surfaces continually
- Continue to take asthma and respiratory medication as prescribed
Say farewell to the flu!
At Charleston Allergy and Asthma, our knowledgeable experts are here to help you maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle while keeping sickness on the bench. If you or a loved one suffer from asthma and are worried about flu complications, we are here to help guide you. Schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified allergists today!