December 14, 2012

One Flu Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

So, it starts with congestion, coughing, sneezing, and just feeling overall puny. It seems like a cold, something that everyone must deal with during the winter months especially. Then the weakness kicks in, and you find yourself dizzy with a pounding headache. Within seconds, the dangerously high fever hits compounded by the achiness, nausea, and—if you are one of the lucky ones—vomiting, and diarrhea. Then, you know it…you have the flu, the dreaded flu.

Every year we hear about it, flu season. This year is no different except that the flu season has come early and with a vengeance. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows as of the first week of December that eight states are reporting that the flu has already moved to a widespread category. And it is only December.  The last time that the flu season came on this early was the 2003-2004 flu season, and it was particularly aggressive and dangerous.

The flu is not some measly little cold. It is a serious virus that deserves serious attention. In a report on Talk of the Nation on NPR, guests Rob Stein, NPR science correspondent, and Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers fro Disease Control and Prevention, noted that some 36,000 people die from the flu on average. 36,000! And even though many of those deaths are the elderly or infants, that is a high enough number to cause alarm.

The most frustrating thing about the flu is just what I described above; we often think it is just a cold. Many ill individuals will ignore their symptoms because they so closely reflect those of the common cold. I know I have done this. Well, redOrbit reported on the differences to help us better understand what is happening to our bodies. With the lists to help us identify our issues, we can better address our illnesses. Ideally, though, we would take steps to prevent the flu so that we do not have these confusions.

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent the flu is through vaccination. Many pharmacies and places of employment are providing the flu vaccine for people as are doctor’s offices and hospitals, of course. The more people who protect themselves from the flu, the less people will infect others. Even if you are in good health, it is a good choice to find a place to get the flu shot because protecting yourself protects others.

If we get the flu shot, we are less likely to get the flu, which means we will not have to deal with the aches, pains, nausea, sniffling, coughing, and general terrible feelings that come with it. On top of that, we are more likely to prevent the spread of the flu virus to others. And the CDC says that this season’s flu vaccination is a seriously good match for this year’s actual flu virus. This means even better protection and prevention.

Not all people can take the flu vaccine, though, so keeping ourselves healthy is important. We should encourage others who feel ill to stay home and recover. If you are someone who should not take the flu shot for whatever reason, talk to your doctor about ways to best protect yourself.

No one wants to feel the consequences of the flu, nor do any of us want to die from the flu. This is one easy-to-prevent virus, so talk to your doctor and figure out what is the best course of action for you. Let’s all work together to help lower those death numbers. Heck, let’s work together to keep the flu from spreading to others. Wash your hands, eat healthy, take your vitamins, and stay home if you are ill. We’ll all thank you.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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