Believe it or not, colds and flu are not the same thing. Colds come with runny and stuffy noses, a headache and sometimes a cough. They can linger for a bit, then before you know it, you're feeling better. The flu can produce the same types of symptoms at first, but then you can develop chills, swollen glands, fever, fatigue and body aches (which may require a trip to your doctor's office). No one wants to deal with either one.
It's pretty likely you'll get a cold and maybe even the flu at some point during the season. But really, can you avoid it? There's no absolute guarantee, but what you can do is take a few precautions to keep colds and flu at bay this year.
The last flu season was a doozy; if you got hit with it, you can attest to that. It came earlier in the season than expected, and resulted in the deaths of more than 110 children in the U.S. According to health experts at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, the flu vaccine remains the best option to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. The flu season can start as early as the end of September and usually runs for about 12 to 15 weeks.
Infectious disease specialists already have identified the flu viruses that are the most likely to cause illness this season, and vaccines have been formulated. Experts believe about 90 percent of the viruses found during surveillance are well-matched to the current vaccines.
"We don't yet know how severe this year's flu season will be, but we're preparing now to try and confront it head on,” says Dr. Brian Currie, infectious disease specialist, and vice president and medical director for research at Montefiore Medical Center. "We continue to strongly encourage everyone to get their flu shot early in the season — September is best.”
There are many things you can do to help stay healthy this season; many are common-sense strategies, but we all could use a reminder! Consider these simple steps to help stay well this year:
Do your best to stay well this season!
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