During the holiday season, there is a surge of individuals experiencing respiratory issues, mainly caused by COVID-19, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus.
Flu infections and hospitalizations are also rising much earlier than normal. Data from the Centers for Disease Control show flu cases are already as high as they are in a typical January — and the cases are still increasing. There have already been nearly 9 million flu cases and 4,500 flu-related deaths in the U.S. since October, which is about the same amount we saw in the entire 2021-2022 flu season.*
As a nurse of more than 18 years and the owner of Your Patient’s Advocate, it is important that I, along with other advocates, educate individuals to understand the best strategies to stay healthy, especially during this illness-ridden time. Your Patient’s Advocate is a Phoenix-based company that offers clients guidance and support to ensure they’re getting the best care possible on their healthcare journey all year round. The top tips to staying healthy during the flu season include:
Understand how the flu is transmitted
As patient care advocates, it is important for us to educate people on how the flu is transmitted and the most effective ways to prevent the spread to others you may be close to. Many experts believe the virus is dispersed through droplets when people talk, cough or sneeze – making it easily spreadable.
Flu season starts in October and typically peaks between December and February. The flu shot has been proven to be beneficial in helping to reduce the spread of the virus, so now is the best time to get your flu shot if you haven’t already done so. Anyone can get the flu and serious complications can happen at any age, although anyone 65 years or older or with chronic health conditions are at a higher risk for complications from the flu.
Common symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and/or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can last four to seven days, and people are most contagious in the first three to four days their illness begins. If symptoms become more severe, it is important to notify doctors when symptoms are first noticed.
A patient care advocate is available to attend and coordinate physician appointments in order to ensure all concerns are addressed, as well as understanding doctor-ordered treatment plans. We also help with reporting back to doctors with any difficulties relating to a specific treatment plan, especially if one is not responding to treatment or may need to be hospitalized.
Follow these prevention strategies
Overall, it is important to understand the best life tips on how to navigate and avoid the flu this season. Incorporating healthy habits into your life such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious foods are all essential in preventing the flu. The CDC recommends these steps to help protect yourself:
• Get vaccinated
• Avoid people who are sick
• Cover your cough
• Wash your hands frequently
As patient care advocates, we are here to assist in any way and help people of all ages navigate the flu season.
Author: Janie Dalrymple, RN, has over 18 years of experience in nursing, including hospital-based bedside care, home health and the outpatient clinic setting. Dalrymple has a strong neurology background and was an ALS Clinic Coordinator for Mayo Clinic for several years. She is the owner of Your Patient’s Advocate, which was founded in 2018 in an effort to help individuals receive the guidance and support they need to ensure they’re getting the best care possible on their healthcare journey.