The Beginning of Flu Season – Key Facts You Need to Know
Just as summer fades into the background and the aroma of pumpkin spice fills the air, another familiar guest knocks on our doors: the annual flu season.
The flu, short for influenza, is a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects millions of Americans yearly, resulting in an estimated 9 -41 million illnesses, as many as 140,000 hospitalizations, and between 12,000 to 52,000 deaths.
Knowing the facts and how to recognize the warning signs of severe disease can help keep you and your family safe.
At Supreme Care ER in Houston, the finest emergency room in Cypress Texas, we’re happy to provide you with the emergency care that you need to help prevent and treat potential complications of flu season.
What is the Flu?
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a respiratory illness triggered by viruses. It can make you feel feverish, give you a cough, a sore throat, a stuffy or runny nose, and make your body ache. You might also feel exhausted and have headaches.
While many people get better on their own, the flu can be especially dangerous for certain groups, like kids, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health problems.
Causes of the Flu
Influenza viruses are responsible for the flu; several strains can circulate during the same flu season. These viruses can mutate over time, leading to different strains and making it challenging for our immune systems to recognize and combat them effectively. This is why flu vaccines are updated annually to protect against the most prevalent strains.
How the Flu Spreads
The flu primarily spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Transmission can occur when you touch surfaces or objects that carry the virus and inadvertently touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Maintaining proper hygiene habits, which involve regular handwashing, covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing, and keeping a safe distance from sick individuals, is crucial in preventing transmission.
Flu symptoms can vary in severity but typically include:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
While most people recover from the flu within a week or two, it can sometimes lead to severe complications. Some of the common flu complications include:
Bacterial Pneumonia: The flu can compromise your immune system, allowing bacteria to cause secondary infections like pneumonia, a serious flu complication requiring medical attention. Symptoms include high fever, difficulty breathing, and chest pain.
Ear Infections: In children and some adults, the flu can lead to ear infections, causing ear pain, fever, and difficulty hearing.
Sinus Infections: Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, can result from the flu. Symptoms include facial pain, congestion, and thick nasal discharge.
Worsening of Chronic Medical Conditions: People with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, COPD, congestive heart failure, and diabetes are at greater risk for severe complications. The flu can exacerbate their underlying conditions, potentially leading to hospitalization.
Emergency Warning Signs of Flu Complications
Knowing the warning signs of severe flu complications is essential for seeking prompt medical care. For both children and adults, watch out for the following signs:
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin color
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Severe or persistent vomiting
- Irritability, not interacting, or being unable to wake up
- Labored breathing with the chest sinking in while breathing
- Intense muscle pain (child avoids walking)
- Signs of dehydration (absence of urination for 8 hours, parched mouth, no tears when crying)
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Persistent fever surpassing 104F
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Chest or abdominal pain or pressure
- Sudden confusion
- Severe dizziness
- Extreme muscle or body aches
- Not urinating
- Symptoms that improve but then return with a fever and worsened cough
- Exacerbation of pre-existing health issues
We Are Here to Help
If you or a loved one experiences emergency warning signs, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial. Remember, the law protects your right to emergency care during an emergency, and timely treatment can make a significant difference in recovery.
Supreme Care ER, Your Emergency Care Partner!
In times of need, Supreme Care ER is always available to provide high-quality emergency medical care. Whether you’re dealing with flu-related complications or any other medical emergency, our experienced healthcare professionals are here to support you.
At Supreme Care ER in Houston, the finest emergency room in Cypress, Texas, we’re happy to provide you with the emergency care you need in the event of a medical emergency. We are conveniently located at 9530 Jones Road, Houston, Texas, 77065. We’re fast and remain open 24 hours year-round.