5 Ways to Prevent The Flu From Affecting Your 2019-2020 CME Plans
5 Ways to Prevent The Flu From Affecting Your 2019-2020 CME Plans
December 30, 2019 by Kenechi Chiemelu

5 Ways to Prevent The Flu From Affecting Your 2019-2020 CME Plans 

Each year, citizens across the country confront an influenza outbreak that is slowly escalating in severity. As a healthcare professional, it’s common knowledge that there’s no perfect prediction for when your body concedes to that good fight. Sometimes, you catch it pretty early but other times, your immune system is waving the white flag.

What is the Flu?

Well, the less common term used is influenza, a generalized name for the virus that infects the individual’s respiratory system. There can be several different strains of influenza yet, often, the symptoms remain consistent. An infection could include a mixture of symptoms, like fever, chills, dry or wet coughs, muscle aches, fatigue, nasal and chest congestion. Influenza season can start as early as October and go on for as late as March or April! For adults, the severity of these symptoms could suggest a week or two of malaise, plenty of liquids, and a few days of rest. However, for at-risk persons with compromisable systems, it can be far more deadly. CDC estimates that so far, this season, there have been at least 3.7 million flu illnesses, 32,000 hospitalizations, and 1,800 deaths from influenza.

MayoClinic reports that if you check off one of these boxes, you will need more than your daily dose of Vitamin C to prevent the flu:

  • Young children under the age of 5, especially those under 12 months. Children under the age of 6 months should be safeguarded from anyone who has not yet been vaccinated.​​​​​​
  • Adults who are older than age 65: there is an alternative vaccination for those 65 years and older, in order to give these individuals a better immune response against the virus.
  • Residents of Nursing Homes: they are exposed to the risk of infection quite easily due to close proximity.
  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum: studies have shown that the flu vaccination for the mother, during pregnancy, can protect the baby after birth from flu infection for several months. However, children under the age of 6 months should still avoid contact with those who haven’t been vaccinated.
  • People with chronic illnesses - especially respiratory illnesses - such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and diabetes may increase your risk of complications with the influenza virus.​

How Does It Spread?

According to the CDC, November 2019, had more influenza activity than any other November since 2009. One week in November had all 50 states across the country reporting flu activity. It’s extremely easy to spread the virus. Typical vectors include doorknobs, handles, phones, keyboards, seats, or surfaces regularly touched by others. It’s even possible for the virus to travel through the air! Microscopic water droplets, from coughs and sneezes, transmit the virus to penetrable areas, such as your nose, eyes, or mouth. Cover your mouth, folks. 

Prevention Is The Best Cure!

So, while you’re preparing to finish some of your CME/CE requirements this year, or you’re just trying to stay ahead of the ‘who’s going to catch my flu’ game, here are some ways to prevent the flu from affecting your plans this year:

  1. Get vaccinated annually! If you normally pass out at the sight of a needle, they’re developing a new nasal spray vaccination, expected to be effective for the 2019-2020 season.
  2. Wash your hands frequently! We all know the archetypical bringer of bad colds, the one person who coughs or sneezes into their palms and shakes hands with every person in the vicinity. For those constantly traveling, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water aren’t readily available. For healthcare providers, if the season is particularly bad at the hospital, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces before using them.
  3. If you’re already feeling like one of the undead, cough into the inner crook of your arm or a tissue. It also helps to cover your nose when you sneeze.
  4. Avoid crowds and commonly public and cramped places like child care centers, schools, public transportation. If you’re working at a hospital, you can’t really avoid sick people but try your best to follow method #2!​​
  5. Get plenty of sleep, physical activity, drink plenty of fluids, and maintain a nutritious diet.​​​

If you do end up getting sick, remember to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever subsides so that you lessen your chance of infecting others. Sharing is caring but not when you’re sick!

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