Real Talk on the Flu. What You Need to Know This Flu Season.

The flu is waging war on humanity!

Possibly this is a strong statement, but the fact is that 47 states currently report “widespread outbreaks” of the flu.

Where I live, hospitals are asking people to avoid visiting if possible, and children under 16 are not allowed to visit at all.

Soccer teams are being told not to high five, people are keeping their kids home from school to prevent exposure, and those crazy masks you usually only see in the airport in China are popping up all over town!

Because people are freaking the freak out!

But why?  And should they be?  And, what about you?  Do you need to hoard cans and build a panic room to seal yourself in your house until spring?!

Here’s some Real Talk on the Flu for dat a$$…

real talk flu

What exactly is the flu?

Sure, we all know it’s a virus.  But, when people say, “Ah, dude, I’ve been in the bathroom all day, I think I have the flu,” they aren’t talking about the one that’s got people afraid to inhale deeply in WalMart.  The flu that’s got humans hoarding canned goods and hand sanitizer is a respiratory illness.  You know, snotting out your nose, coughing up a lung, fever delirium, that sort of thing.  Pretty much you can barely breathe, you can’t really eat, and you sleep more than you move while feeling like death warmed over for at least 3 days, but maybe 2 weeks!  Flu symptoms are more like those of a cold than those of food poisoning, only worse.  Like, way, way worse.

Am I going to catch it?  And, if So, will I die?

Probably.  Okay, fine, possibly.

2013 is shaping up to be an aggressive flu season statistically.  Basically that means that if there is a year when you are likely to catch the flu, solely based on probability, this would be it.  So, if you’re a gambling gal, then put your money on the flu winning this round.

Doesn’t mean it’s a surety (things like your immune system, your hand hygiene, where you live, and if you like to lick windows play a role), just a higher probability that you will contract the disease should you fail to take evasive action (more on that below), or are just unlucky (not much to be done about that).  Or gross.

Now, whether or not you are likely to die, not just think you’re going to die, but actually kick off courtesy of influenza, is anyone’s guess.  However, there are some factors that sort of weigh against you in this situation as well.  Some people are just more susceptible to flu complications (they’re what get ya) that could lead to a seriously effed up go of it and/or death.  Those who are super old, super young, super sick already (chronically), or about to give birth to another human being are at greatest risk.  Doesn’t mean you’re doomed, just means you need to be diligent.

So, what about the flu shot?  Does that thing even work?

The CDC says that getting your “annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal-spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others”.

So, just like only you can prevent forest fires, only you can prevent the flu!

I know that some of you don’t trust the gubment government, and that some of you think it’s a conspiracy to like, um, disguise the cloning of circus monkeys, or um, something, so for you, here are some facts about the flu vaccine that I don’t expect you to believe:

  • This year’s vaccine is 62% effective in protecting you against contracting the disease.  Go ahead and do a little math here, that means that it has a 38% non-effectiveness rate.  It’s up to you to do the whole risks vs rewards deal here.
  • Medical professionals (which I think it’s safe to assume the majority of the people here reading my little blog are not) say that the flu vaccine doesn’t cause the flu.  I know, Grandma Betty says  it does, but Grandma Betty also says that you shouldn’t stretch while pregnant because your unborn baby will be strangled.  You decide who to trust.
  • Antibiotics will NOT cure your flu.  However, oftentimes if taken within the first couple days of your illness, antiviral drugs may help speed recovery and reduce the risk of complications.

I just hate shots.  What else can I do to prevent this?

Wash.  Your.  Grubby.  Hands.

Following the flu shot, proper hand hygiene is the most effective way to prevent contraction and spread of the flu virus (or any virus that is communicable in the same way).  And, you shouldn’t just wash your hands well when you’re sick, you should just be a better hand washer in general, especially because you’re contagious with the flu from even before you actually exhibit signs of illness!

Other great ideas: stay home when you’re sick, even if your job wants to get all pissy about it, don’t sneeze into your hands, and stop picking your nose.  It’s gross and you introduce foreign antibodies into your body that way.

So, Dumb Mom, what would you do (aka WWDMD)?

I get the shot every year and so do my kids.  For me, I am highly susceptible to respiratory illnesses.  Blame my lame kidneys.  It’s there fault.

As for the Dudes, two of them have asthma, one of them severely.  I don’t want them contracting this virus and I’m willing to do whatever I can to keep them safe.  I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if they contracted the flu, got really sick, or worse, and I hadn’t done everything I could to prevent them from that fate.

Already, we’ve been in the hospital three times with the flu.  We’ve had multiple febrile seizures because of the flu.  And, a number of chest involved illnesses too.

Influenza is a total a-hole.

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Comments

  1. Awesome post! I am a nurse and have seen lots and LOTS of flu this year. Not just flu but bad complications from the flu. Of course I am a big proponent for the flu shot , I have to have it every year bc of my job and with everything I get exposed to I’m very rarely sick and never have had the flu. Sometimes you may notice you get a cold or a little bug after you get the shot, that’s because your body might have already been fighting off a little something and when you get any injection your immune system lowers temporarily before rebounding and thus allows that nasty bug to rear it’s ugly head. Hand washing is #1 along with awareness. Cover that sneezer and stay home when you are sick! Keep spreading the word people.

  2. I notice you didn’t mention whether Dumb Dad gets it. I say that because in our house my husband is the odd man out, refusing to get it and hoping that the kids and I boost his immunity. No matter what time of year I get the shot, even when I strategically get it earlier so that it’s fully in my sytem by the time flu season starts, I get sick. While it’s never full-on flu, which I’m grateful for, it’s irritating that it happens every time. Not sick – get the shot – bam! sick. This year was the first year we got it worse than usual but still I imagined it wasn’t what all of what most people with true flu were dealing with. One or more of the kids will have a runny nose and/or cough every other day but none has been really sick since October/November.

    And I have to agree with Southern Angel above. I work in a cubicle so I’m more aware of when people are not covering when they cough and I’ve seen Outbreak, y’all; I know how those spit particles you can’t even see fly right on over to me and land on my keyboard, my hands, the food I’m eating. Or the people who walk out of the bathroom stall, don’t wash their hands, but fix their makeup, then touch the door handle. And you wonder why I always say no to your homemade cookies? Because if you’re nasty here where I can see you, I know damn well you’re worse at home, ButtHands.

    • He gets it some times, when it’s readily available (aka they come to his desk and ask him outright) and I shame him into it.

  3. We vaccinated our kids, but didn’t get the shots for ourselves. Great post Amanda. Flu is no joke people!!

    • Thanks! It’s so crazy to me how some parents are all, yeah I think so and so is getting the flu, while so and so is standing right in front of me. I have an intense urge to drop kick so and so and his mama!

  4. The last time we got the flu was 6 years ago. The girls and I don’t get the vaccine. The boy gets it because he has Hep B and we don’t know if he got flu if he would be more susceptible to complications. He had strep when he’d been in America 4 months and hasn’t been sick since.

    Sure, we homeschool, but we still go to the grocery, church, and taco bell. I mean community events. But we have a lot of control over how much we are out in the microorganic snot cocktail.

    We consider those doses of the flu vaccine are available for the elderly and those with special needs. If we tended to get sick, I would probably feel differently.

    You know I’ve said it 1101 times. The Grapefruit Seed Extract in O.J. did as well or better than Tamiflu last time we were sick. The bottle costs under $20. Thanks for reminding me to stock up before the flu makes it here.

    • That’s why we get it. To keep me and The Asthma Dudes from being hospitalized. I’ll have to try your grapefruit see idea!

  5. I don’t get the shot, neither does my husband. The one year he got the shot he got the flu, of course their excuse was it was the newest strain that was not covered in the shot.. umm yeah. BUT I am a huge hand washer, for everything, period. sneeze wash my hands, cough, clean, do dishes you name it. What scares the heck out of me is seeing people in public *coff coff Walmart* bathrooms come out and walk right past the sinks. Really people, so not only do you not care to get an illness you apparently take pride in now groping groceries I will be handling later with your nasty hands and grubby digits.