Preventing illness during flu season

Preventing the flu is essential to keeping healthy. Especially during the flu season, it is critical to take all the precautions.

More than 36,000 people die from complications of influenza each year. Influenza, also known as the flu, can result in infections, bronchitis, pneumonia or death. To prevent spreading the illness, the flu shot or nasal spray can protect others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu shot is a vaccine that contains a dead flu virus and is approved for most people over six months of age.

The nasal spray is made of a live, but weakened, flu virus. It is sometimes called Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV). The spray is approved only for healthy people ages 2-49 years old who are not pregnant and do not have chronic diseases.

On Oct. 17, the Academy participated in the state-funded flu clinic for senior kindergartners through eighth graders. The clinic was held in the auditorium and throughout the day, students went to get vaccinated.

Flu vaccinations can help prevent the spread of flu, but some side effects include muscle aches, fever or vomiting.

“Everyone should get the vaccine, but particularly people who are in health care and exposed to these viruses, as well as young children and the elderly, who are more prone to sickness,” said Dr. Vicente S. Ramo, a family practitioner in Honolulu.

The flu season can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, young children and the elderly because they are at high risk for developing flu-related complications. Vaccinations are important for them to prevent contracting the flu. However, those with allergies to chicken eggs or who have had severe reactions to the vaccine in the past should not get a vaccination without physician consent.

To prevent catching the flu, “wash your hands, eat healthy, get adequate rest, drink plenty of fluids, avoid congested areas and get vaccinated,” said Ramo.

Recognizing the symptoms of flu so that treatment can begin as soon as possible is important. Symptoms include fever, cough, body aches, muscle and joint pain, nasal congestion, watery eyes, chills or loss of appetite.

If the flu is contracted, “stay home, stay hydrated, get adequate hours of sleep, take vitamins and see your doctor as soon as possible,” said Ramo.