Do You Have a Plan if the Flu Strikes Your Family?
This Flu Season is the Worst in Years.
The flu has not yet peaked and the peak could be several weeks away. Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, "We may be on track to break some recent records." The flu is widespread in nearly 47 states including Georgia.
“The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories was influenza A(H3N2) virus.” – CDC
The H3N2 is the most dangerous of all the current flu strains. It represents the largest percent of all the samples – 74 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
It is important to know what to do if you have the flu and have a plan to get help for yourself or loved ones. Health Force of Georgia has trained home healthcare professionals that will come to your home and help.
“The most frequently identified influenza virus subtype reported by public health laboratories was influenza A(H3N2) virus.”
– Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Do You Have Symptoms of the Flu?
Some signs you might have the flu include a fever of 100 degrees plus a cough or sore throat. Flu symptoms are usually more severe than cold symptoms and come on quickly. You might also have a headache, muscle aches and soreness.
New technology by Kinsa indicates that Georgia has one of the highest percentages of people now reporting fevers.
The CDC estimates that normally the flu kills about 12,000 Americans. But, in a bad year, it kills up to 56,000 people with the majority being the elderly. Children under five or children with asthma and pregnant women are more at risk. Surprisingly, the baby boomers, between the ages of 50 to 64, are being hospitalized at unusually high rates – 63.1 per 100,000 persons.
Why are the very young and the very old at more risk?
Immune systems are the reason the young and very old are at more risk. Young children do not have an immune system that has been exposed to enough pathogens for their bodies to recognize the viruses. The elderly may have compromised immune systems that are unable to react to the viruses effectively.
“The highest hospitalization rate is among people 65 years and older (263.6 per 100,000), followed by adults aged 50-64 years (63.1 per 100,000), and younger children aged 0-4 years (40.0 per 100,000). During most seasons, adults 65 years and older have the highest hospitalization rates, followed by children 0-4 years.”
-- Centers For Disease Control (CDC)
So why are people dying from the flu?
The Centers for Disease Control states in this week’s (second week in February 2018) flu report:
Among 1,955 hospitalized adults with information on underlying medical conditions, 1,325 (67.8%) had at least one reported underlying medical condition; the most commonly reported were cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorder, obesity, and chronic lung disease.
Children Are At Risk
Among 192 hospitalized children with information on underlying medical conditions, 97 (50.5%) had at least one underlying medical condition; the most commonly reported were asthma, neurologic disorder, and obesity. Among 151 hospitalized women of childbearing age (15-44 years) with information on pregnancy status, 36 (23.8%) were pregnant. Everyone is at risk but if you have an underlying condition, you should be more concerned.
Inflammation is an immune reaction that can be the result of the white blood cells in your body as they attempt to kill off the flu virus. Swelling in the lungs can prevent your blood vessels from getting enough oxygen when the lung tissue is swollen with immune cells. This can result in respiratory failure because the lungs cannot get enough oxygen. This can happen quickly with the flu and death can happen quickly with little warning.
Health Force of Georgia is Here to Help
Besides the lungs, other organs can become inflamed as the immune system sends out the white blood cells to kill the flu virus. A body-wide inflammatory reaction can trigger sepsis and cause multiple organs to shut down resulting in a swift death.
Organs that can be vulnerable to inflammation include your kidneys, heart and brain. If the brain becomes inflamed it can lead to death. Swelling in the heart can trigger other cardiac problems and the elderly are more likely to succumb to a heart attack within weeks of having had the flu.
When your body’s immune system is fighting the flu, other bacteria in your body can spread to the lungs and cause pneumonia. It is important to have a health professional assess you if you suddenly start feeling worse after you have had the flu and started to feel better. You could have pneumonia and left unchecked, the bacteria will spread rapidly, and it might be too late for antibiotics to work if you wait too long.
Based on National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality surveillance data available on February 8, 2018, 10.1% of the deaths occurring during the week ending January 20, 2018 (week 3) were due to Pneumonia and Influenza (P&I). This percentage is above the epidemic threshold of 7.3% for week three.
Temporary Help is Available When Sickness Strikes
Sometimes you need temporary help when you have an elderly parent that is living alone or have a sick child, or if the main caregiver in the family has come down with the flu -- or maybe the entire family is sick. The flu can spread rapidly through a family or school with little to no warning. You might suddenly need help with day to day activities such as housework, meal preparation or you might even need a skilled nurse to assess your medical needs. Health Force of Georgia is here to help.
Our service area includes metro Atlanta, GA and 18 surrounding counties.
How Can a Caregiver from Health Force of Georgia Help with the Flu Epidemic?
Health Force of Georgia has trained home health caregivers to assist you in these and other ways.
Health Force of Georgia provides skilled nursing care by highly trained Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses. Whether aiding recovery from the flu or a long-term chronic illness or even a short-term surgical procedure, our nursing staff stands ready to help patients return to their original well-being. We work closely with third-party insurers, doctors, and other healthcare providers to ensure coordination of care. We've been serving families in Atlanta, GA and surrounding counties for 30+ years.
Give us a call. We can help.
Download a flyer from the Centers for Disease Control -"Everyday Prevention Actions That Can Help Fight Germs, Like Flu"