By Tamaris Cooper
Flu season is fast approaching and there are some things that you need to know to prepare. Influenza (flu) can start during the cold weather season and can take three weeks to peak and three weeks to diminish. Flu season is the time of year where you can suffer with symptoms that make you feel lousy and miserable. Influenza comes each year spreading germs from one person to another. So, what is the flu and how can students tackle it?
Tejlah Cooper, Director of Health Education for the Cumberland County Health Department, states that seasonal influenza, or the flu, is a virus that infects the respiratory tract causing fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, or fatigue. Flu symptoms usually start one to three days after coming in contact with a person that is already infected. Unlike the common cold, the flu can cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those with certain health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.
The flu is usually spread person-to-person through droplets that are released in the air when people with the flu cough, sneeze, or talk. The time in which a person is able to spread the flu varies, but generally you may be able to pass it on to others before symptoms develop and up to a week after becoming sick. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a vaccine each season. In New Jersey, the flu occurs between the months of October through early April with the peak being in January and February. October and November are the best times to get a flu shot, but getting one through March can also offer protection. However, it is best to get one as early as possible before the flu begins spreading in the community.
Most people will feel mild side effects of the shot including soreness and redness where the shot was given, fever, and body aches. Flu shots are available at local pharmacies, physician offices, health centers, and health departments. The Cumberland County College Health Department offers flu shots at CCC so students and staff can get their vaccines right on campus. If you get sick with the flu, be sure to stay home and avoid contact with other people. If you feel as though your symptoms are more severe, it is best to seek medical attention immediately. Remember, it’s important to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue as well as wash your hands often. Because the flu can be a deadly virus, the more education the community receives on the topic, the more they can protect themselves and loved ones. Be prepared this season to tackle the flu and not let it tackle you.