Blog by Mark Wolfe, Customer Account Representative, GrandView Pharmacy
As I sit down to compose this article on August 20, 2019, I realize that we are sadly, but rapidly, approaching the end of summer. In the Midwest, we’re beginning to prepare for autumn, harvest season, falling leaves with colors aplenty, football, etc. We go from spending much of our time in the outdoors to gradually moving indoors due to the cooler weather preparing us for four months, if we are lucky, of winter.
For those of us that are 65 years of age or older, it also means a few more healthcare concerns. Fall and winter are peak times for many viral illnesses, particularly influenza. . (Brett Johnson, MD, Family Specialist, Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, Oct 8, 2013). Viruses are easily transmitted from one person to the next while indoors. These can be especially harmful to elderly and those individuals with suppressed immune systems who reside in senior living settings.
Most research agrees that when sick people cough or sneeze, they send microscopic droplets into the air. If the cougher or sneezer already has the flu, they are spreading the illness in these droplets. These droplets float in the air we breathe and those nearby inhale the droplets through their mouths or noses. People already infected with the flu can spread it to others up to six feet away.  (Centers for Disease Control Newsletter, Aug 27, 2018). Additionally, these virus containing droplets also land on surfaces such as tables, chairs, door knobs, hand rails, kitchen counters, bingo & card tables and so on. When you innocently touch these surfaces, you pickup the virus, then just as innocently rub your eyes, touch your lips or mouth or nostrils and BOOM… you have just allowed the virus to enter your body.
- The flu is particularly nasty because a person can pass the virus to others before they themselves even know that they are ill.
- People are most contagious for the first 3-4 days after the illness begins.
- Healthy adults who have not yet begun to exhibit symptoms may be able to infect others at day 1 before symptoms show, and from 5-7 days after becoming sick.
- Elderly people with weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for even a longer period of time.
Therefore, it is vitally important that you take control of your own disease prevention program. How do you do that? There are several steps that normal individuals can do on a daily basis to significantly reduce the odds of catching the flu this season.
Key information to know:
In the United States the flu season typically begins in October or November, peaking in December through February, but it can last until May.
How to prepare to fight the flu:
GET A FLU SHOT!! Annual flu vaccinations is one of the best ways to fight the flu each flu season. By getting a flu shot you significantly decrease the opportunity to get the disease. But if you do become infected with the flu, research shows you may experience a milder case. (New England Journal of Medicine: 333(14) 889-893).
- Prepare a plan… if you plan on getting a flu shot, remember that it takes your body 2-3 weeks, post immunization, to develop antibody sufficient enough to combat the disease. So act soon!
- Commit to washing your hands several times each day. This means using a mild soap & warm water with vigorous washing and drying. This should be done before eating and before bedtime.
- Be sure to eat a proper diet. Get plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Fueling your body properly helps maintain a healthy immune system.
- Mild Exercise and Get plenty of sleep. Both keep you healthier.
- Avoid people who exhibit flu symptoms. If your neighbors cough and sneeze simply excuse yourself and leave. Be sure to cover your mouth. if you must cough or sneeze, and be sure to wash your hands immediately afterward.
- Consider wearing an Anti-Viral face mask if you are in frequent contact with other people, such as in an assisted living facility.
GrandView Pharmacy does our part to combat the flu. We serve numerous long term care facilities and we offer a variety of vaccines to our client facilities, including shingles and pneumonia, as well as influenza vaccine. For Assisted Living facilities, GrandView can partner with the facility to provide a Flu Clinic on-site for residents & employees, if the facility agrees. Inquire with your care team if the flu vaccine will be available to them this coming flu season.
Ben Franklin once said that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and that axiom is as true today as it was when ‘Ol Ben quoted.
About the Author
Click here to learn more about Mark and the rest of the GrandView team.