As a member of the CHPA OTC Safety Ambassador Program, I received compensation for this post but all opinions and misery caused by the flu, are my own.
I’m the first to admit that I hate getting sick because of the inconvenience of it all. I never get the sniffles or a little cold. I get full blown sick where I know the only cure is to resign myself to bed to sleep it off. I swore this was the year I wasn’t going to get sick and things were looking up after making it through the fall without the plagues of past years (flu one year, pneumonia the next!) until last weekend.
Sunday afternoon the flu hit me like a mack truck barreling down the highway. We had a great weekend where I was able to catch up on sleep and relax a bit from a break in endless kid activities. The weather was gorgeous and Oliver the Dog and I resumed our outside runs thanks to 50 degree temps which were a reprieve from winter weather.
As darkness fell on Sunday afternoon, I could tell I was sick. Aches going up and down my back and around my ribcage were not typical post-run aches. I was freezing cold despite my many layers and when I piled them on, I’d start to feel better for a bit before stripping them off one by one and then repeating the whole cycle over again. My throat started to hurt and I was downright miserable.
The kids ran to get the ear thermometer- one jabbed it in one ear while the other took a turn gently inserting it into the other- and the results? 101.7
Great. The dreaded flu. Despite having a flu shot, I had the flu. Sore throat, fever, aches in strange places, and a drippy nose.
The next few days I slept, drank lots of tea, and woke up to self medicate. Ibuprofen was alternated with acetaminophen when it was clear that just one wasn’t working to keep my fever down. I reached for my husband’s horse sized mucus thinners to get rid of the post-nasal drip that was making my throat sore. I took my over the counter allergy meds to serve as a decongestant.
Even though I knew the medicine I was taking wouldn’t shorten the course of the flu, I had to do something to make my symptoms bearable to not become one of the 200,000 individuals who visit the hospital each year for flu symptoms.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), flu activity has picked up across the country and with 41 states with widespread flu, they’re prediciting several more weeks of high flu activity. If you’re concerned about the flu in your area, this map provides a weekly update about influenza state by state.
To protect yourself from the flu, the CDC recommends:
- Getting vaccinated. While there’s a big push to get the flu vaccine in the fall, it’s not too late. The CDC says “high flu activity will probably continue for several weeks and flu can spread as late as May.” The CDC estimates that 79,000 flu hospitalizations were prevented in the 2012-2013 flu season. This number is equal to the number of fans in a full NFL stadium!
- Know how the flu spreads and take appropriate precautions to keep yourself healthy. OTCSafety.org recommends hand washing, avoiding contact with those who have the flu, and cleaning surfaces and covering your cough to stay healthy.
- Be able to recognize the difference between a cold and the flu. I thought I had a cold at first but the CDC’s Cold Versus Flu and OTCSafety.org’s Decoding the Symptoms: Influenza made me realize quickly that I had the flu!
- Using antiviral drugs if you do get the flu. Prescription medications can shorten the length of the illness, lessen symptoms, and help to reduce serious complications that could arise as a result of having the flu.
Since over the counter medicines helped me feel a lot more comfortable when I had the flu last week, it’s important to remember- even in your very sick state- to always read the Drug Facts Label to ensure you’re administering the proper dose at the correct intervals. Also be sure to never give oral cough and cold meds to kids under the age of 4.