Flu Season in the COVID-19 Era
While we've spent the past year learning about the COVID-19 virus, we can apply many of the same lessons and preventative measures to avoiding a flu infection during this flu season. Similarly to COVID-19, the flu is spread by droplets from sneezing and coughing. Though the flu is contagious it thankfully does not spread quite as easily as COVID-19. The flu attacks the lungs, nose and throat. This common viral infection can also be deadly to high-risk individuals.
According to the CDC, the flu causes between 9 million and 45 million illnesses each year since 2010. The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine every year. By getting your flu shot, it can reduce your chance of getting the flu by 40%-60% (Source: CDC).
Other tips to prevent the spread of the flu should sound very familiar, as they are similar to the health measures we should already be taking to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands. Never share cups or cutlery. Stay home from work or school if you are presenting flu-like symptoms. Wear a mask, and make sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Finally, always get plenty of rest and stay hydrated to keep your body in top shape to fight off illnesses.
It isn’t always easy to tell if your child is coming down with the flu, but one of the most reliable signs is a sudden fever and a cough. Other symptoms could include a sore throat, body aches, headache, a stuffy or runny nose, and a feeling of incredible tiredness. Children are also more likely than adults to have vomiting and diarrhea.
Unfortunately COVID-19 has many overlapping symptoms with the flu, so it can be difficult to determine which is causing the illness yourself. According to the CDC, common COVID-19 signs include fever, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, fatigue, sore throat, headache, loss of taste or smell, congestion, runny nose, and gastrointestinal issues like nausea and diarrhea. Some adults and children have severe cases of the coronavirus that lead to death, while others have no symptoms at all. It’s also possible to have COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. You should call your doctor if you’re unsure of your symptoms; they may recommend getting a coronavirus test. In any case, it's best for the sick person to stay at home to prevent spreading it to others, as no one wants to be sick with either flu or COVID-19.
If you do contract the flu, here are a few natural flu remedies that you can try at home:
• Chicken Soup: It can help to keep you hydrated and can reduce nasal congestion.
• Ginger Root: Boiling a few small pieces can soothe a cough and sore throat. Ginger root is also known for nausea relief.
• Honey: Honey has antimicrobial properties and can be used as a cough suppressant. Drinking hot tea with honey can also ease a sore throat. Honey should not be given to children under one year old as it can contain the bacteria that causes botulism, and infant immune systems are not developed enough to fight it off.
• Elderberry: It has been used for centuries to fight not only the flu but also colds and sinusitis. This berry has antiviral properties to help your body fight the flu virus.
Though a flu infection can usually be treated at home, there are times when a person with the flu should seek emergency medical treatment. Children under age 5 and those at high risk of heart or breathing complications should definitely see a doctor for flu-like symptoms. If your child also has trouble breathing, isn't drinking enough or shows signs of dehydration, has a fever above 104 degrees F, won't interact, or is too irritable to be held, you should seek emergency medical treatment.