National Health Observances

Know Your Risk for Heart Disease

What health conditions increase the risk of heart disease?

High blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is a medical condition that happens when the pressure of the blood in your arteries and other blood vessels is too high. The high pressure, if not controlled, can affect your heart and other major organs of your body, including your kidneys and brain.

High blood pressure is often called a “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. The only way to know whether you have high blood pressure is to measure your blood pressure. You can lower your blood pressure with lifestyle changes or with medicine to reduce your risk for heart disease and heart attack.

Unhealthy blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance made by the liver or found in certain foods. Your liver makes enough for your body’s needs, but we often get more cholesterol from the foods we eat.

If we take in more cholesterol than the body can use, the extra cholesterol can build up in the walls of the arteries, including those of the heart. This leads to narrowing of the arteries and can decrease the blood flow to the heart, brain, kidneys, and other parts of the body.

There are two main types of blood cholesterolLDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is considered to be “bad” cholesterol because it can cause plaque buildup in your arteries, and HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is considered to be “good” cholesterol because higher levels provide some protection against heart disease.

High blood cholesterol usually has no signs or symptoms. The only way to know whether you have high cholesterol is to get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team can do a simple blood test, called a “lipid profile,” to measure your cholesterol levels. Learn more about getting your cholesterol checked.

Diabetes mellitusYour body needs glucose (sugar) for energy. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps move glucose from the food you eat to your body’s cells for energy. If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use its own insulin as well as it should, or both.

Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood. The risk of death from heart disease for adults with diabetes is higher than for adults who do not have diabetes.2 Talk with your doctor about ways to prevent or manage diabetes and control other risk factors.

Obesity. Obesity is excess body fat. Obesity is linked to higher “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels and to lower “good” cholesterol levels. Obesity can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes as well as heart disease. Talk with your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level. Learn more about healthy weight.

What behaviors increase the risk of heart disease?

Your lifestyle can increase your risk for heart disease.

  • Eating a diet high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterolhas been linked to heart disease and related conditions, such as atherosclerosis. Also, too much salt (sodium) in the diet can raise blood pressure.
  • Not getting enough physical activitycan lead to heart disease. It can also increase the chances of having other medical conditions that are risk factors, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Regular physical activity can lower your risk for heart disease.
  • Drinking too much alcoholcan raise blood pressure levels and the risk for heart disease. It also increases levels of triglycerides, a fatty substance in the blood which can increase the risk for heart disease.
    • Women should have no more than 1 drink a day.
    • Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day.
  • Tobacco useincreases the risk for heart disease and heart attack:
    • Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, which increases your risk for heart conditions such as atherosclerosis and heart attack.
    • Nicotine raises blood pressure.
    • Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry.
    • Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase the risk for heart disease, even for nonsmokers.

Source https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm


Causes of Glaucoma

Causes of Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause vision loss and blindness by damaging the nerve in the back of your eye called the optic nerve.

People who have higher eye pressure are at higher risk for glaucoma. But each type of glaucoma is different — and for some of them, experts are still learning about the causes.

How can eye pressure damage the optic nerve?

Research shows that higher eye pressure increases your risk for damage to the optic nerve. The pressure in your eye goes up if fluid can’t drain normally out of the front of your eye.

Between the cornea (clear front layer of the eye) and the iris (colored part of the eye), there’s a space called the “anterior chamber.” Fluid normally flows through this space and out of an opening where the iris and cornea meet. The opening has spongy tissue in it. The fluid passes through this spongy tissue as it drains out of the eye.

The green arrow in the diagram below shows how the fluid normally moves through the eye.

Not everyone with higher eye pressure will develop glaucoma. Whether you develop glaucoma depends on the amount of pressure your optic nerve can take without being damaged. This amount is different for each person.

Getting regular comprehensive dilated eye exams can help your eye doctor figure out what level of eye pressure is normal for you.

What causes open-angle glaucoma?

In people with open-angle glaucoma, the fluid passes too slowly through the spongy tissue in the opening where the iris and cornea meet. This causes fluid to build up in your eye, which increases the pressure inside of your eye.

Experts believe that when the pressure inside your eye gets too high, it can damage the optic nerve and cause vision loss. Studies show that lowering eye pressure can help stop vision loss from glaucoma — that’s why it’s important to control the pressure inside your eyes.

What causes normal-tension glaucoma?

It’s possible for your optic nerve to get damaged and cause vision loss without high eye pressure. This is called normal-tension glaucoma or low-tension glaucoma.

Experts don’t know why this happens, but it may be that your optic nerve is more sensitive than most people’s. In this case, even though the pressure in your eye is normal, lowering it can slow down or prevent more damage to your eye.

What causes angle-closure glaucoma?

In angle-closure glaucoma, the opening where the iris and cornea meet gets blocked by the outer edge of the iris. When this happens, the fluid can’t drain out of your eye at all. This is a medical emergency.

Angle-closure glaucoma can cause these sudden symptoms:

  • Intense eye pain
  • Upset stomach (nausea)
  • Red eye
  • Blurry vision

If you have these symptoms, go to your doctor or an emergency room immediately.

What causes congenital glaucoma?

In congenital glaucoma, babies are born with a problem in their eye that makes fluid drain more slowly than normal. The good news is that if a child with congenital glaucoma gets surgery soon after they are diagnosed, they have a high chance of developing good vision.

Can other health problems cause glaucoma?

Yes — you can develop different types of glaucoma that are called secondary glaucomas.

Health problems that can cause glaucoma include:

  • Complications from medical conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure
  • Cataract
  • Certain eye tumors
  • Inflammation of your eye
  • Serious eye injuries
  • A reaction to steroids used to treat some diseases

Source https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/glaucoma/causes


What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?

The most important thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to have regular screening tests starting at age 21.

Screening Tests

Two screening tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early—

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.

Both tests can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. If you have a low income or do not have health insurance, you may be able to get free or low-cost screening tests through CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. Find out if you qualify.

HPV Vaccine

The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that most often cause cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers.

  • HPV vaccination is recommended for preteens aged 11 to 12 years, but can be given starting at age 9.
  • HPV vaccine also is recommended for everyone through age 26 years, if they are not vaccinated already.
  • HPV vaccination is not recommended for everyone older than age 26 years. However, some adults age 27 through 45 years who are not already vaccinated may decide to get the HPV vaccine after speaking with their doctor about their risk for new HPV infections and the possible benefits of vaccination. HPV vaccination in this age range provides less benefit, as more people have already been exposed to HPV.

If vaccination is started before age 15, a two-dose schedule is recommended, with the doses given 6 to 12 months apart. For people who start the series after their 15th birthday, the vaccine is given in a series of three shots.

HPV vaccination prevents new HPV infections, but does not treat existing infections or diseases. This is why the HPV vaccine works best when given before any exposure to HPV. You should get screened for cervical cancer regularly, even if you received an HPV vaccine.

More Steps to Help Prevent Cervical Cancer

These things may also help lower your risk for cervical cancer—

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Use condoms during sex.*
  • Limit your number of sexual partners.

*HPV infection can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as in areas that are not covered. While the effect of condoms in preventing HPV infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer.

Source https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/cervical/basic_info/prevention.htm


Thyroid FAQs

How common is thyroid disease?

Thyroid disease is more common than diabetes or heart disease. Thyroid disease is a fact of life for as many as 30 million Americans – and more than half of those people remain undiagnosed. Women are five times more likely than men to suffer from hypothyroidism (when the gland is not producing enough thyroid hormone). Aging is just one risk factor for hypothyroidism.

How important is my thyroid in my overall well-being?

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormone, which controls virtually every cell, tissue and organ in the body. If your thyroid is not functioning properly, it can produce too much thyroid hormone, which causes the body’s systems to speed up (hyperthyroidism); or it can create too little thyroid hormone, which causes the body’s systems to slow down (hypothyroidism).

Untreated thyroid disease may lead to elevated cholesterol levels and subsequent heart disease, as well as infertility and osteoporosis. Research also shows that there is a strong genetic link between thyroid disease and other autoimmune diseases, including types of diabetes, arthritis and anemia.

Simply put, if your thyroid gland isn’t working properly, neither are you.

How do you know if you have a thyroid problem?

First, you must understand how to recognize the symptoms and risk factors of thyroid disease. Since many symptoms may be hidden or mimic other diseases and conditions, the best way to know for sure is to ask your doctor for a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, a simple blood test to verify your thyroid gland’s condition. Also, take a minute and perform a self Neck Check. And because thyroid disease often runs in families, examinations of your family members and a review of their medical histories may reveal other individuals with thyroid problems.

What are some of the reasons to consider a thyroid evaluation?

  • Family history: A familiar place to look for thyroid disorder signs and symptoms is your family tree. If you have a first-degree relative (a parent, sibling or child) with thyroid disease, you would benefit from thyroid evaluation. Women are much more likely to be thyroid patients than men; however, the gene pool runs through both.
  • Prescription medications: If you are taking Lithium or Amiodarone, you should consider a thyroid evaluation.
  • Radiation therapy to the head or neck: If you have had any of the following radiation therapies, you should consider a thyroid evaluation: radiation therapy for tonsils, radiation therapy for an enlarged thymus, or radiation therapy for acne.
  • Chernobyl: If you lived near Chernobyl at the time of the 1986 nuclear accident, you should consider a thyroid evaluation.

Source http://www.thyroidawareness.com/about-your-thyroid


BD Prevention

Best For You. Best For Baby. 5 Tips for Preventing Birth Defects.

1.    Be sure to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
Folic acid is important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. These birth defects develop very early during pregnancy when the neural tube—which forms the early brain and the spinal cord—does not close properly. You need to start taking folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant and continue during pregnancy.In addition to eating foods with natural folate, you can:
  • Take a vitamin that has folic acid in it every day.
    • Most vitamins sold in the United States have the recommended amount of folic acid women need each day. Check the label on the bottle to be sure it contains 100% of the daily value (DV) of folic acid, which is 400 mcg.
  • Eat fortified foods.
    • You can find folic acid in some breads, breakfast cereals, and corn masa flour.
    • Be sure to check the nutrient facts label, and look for one that has “100%” next to folic acid.
2.    Book a visit with your healthcare provider before stopping or starting any medicine.
Many women need to take medicine to stay healthy during pregnancy. If you are planning to become pregnant, discuss your current medicines with a healthcare provider, such as your doctor or pharmacist. Creating a treatment plan for your health condition before you are pregnant can help keep you and your developing baby healthy.
3.    Become up-to-date with all vaccines, including the flu shot.
Vaccines help protect you and your developing baby against serious diseases. Get a flu shot and whooping cough vaccine (also called Tdap) during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby.
  1. Flu: You can get the flu shot before or during each pregnancy.
  2. Whooping Cough: You can get the whooping cough vaccine in the last three months of each pregnancy.
4.    Before you get pregnant, try to reach a healthy weight.

Obesity increases the risk for several serious birth defects and other pregnancy complications. If you are underweight, overweight, or have obesity, talk with your healthcare provider about ways to reach and maintain a healthy weight before you get pregnant. Focus on a lifestyle that includes healthy eating and regular physical activity.

5.    Boost your health by avoiding substances that are harmful during pregnancy.
Alcohol: There is no known safe amount of alcohol during pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant. Alcohol can cause problems for a developing baby throughout pregnancy, so it’s important to stop drinking alcohol when you start trying to get pregnant. Tobacco: Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, and other major health problems. Smoking during pregnancy can also harm the developing baby and can cause certain birth defects. Quitting smoking will help you feel better and provide a healthier environment for your baby. Other Drugs: Using certain drugs during pregnancy can cause health problems for a woman and her developing baby. If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant and can’t stop using drugs―get help! A healthcare provider can help you with counseling, treatment, and other support services.

 

Source https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/prevention-month.html


Top Tips for Choosing Safe Toys this Holiday

Top Tips for Choosing Safe Toys this Holiday

The American Academy of Ophthalmology urges parents to avoid buying toys that can cause serious eye injuries, even blindness. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2017. Almost half of those incidents were injuries to the head. Unfortunately, most of these injuries happen to children under age 15. It’s important to think about the safety of any gift you’re giving, especially if it’s a gift for a child.

Top Toy Safety Tips:

  • Avoid purchasing toys with sharp, protruding or projectile parts.
  • Make sure children have appropriate supervision when playing with potentially hazardous toys or games that could cause an eye injury.
  • Ensure that laser product labels include a statement that the device complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J.
  • If you give a gift of sports equipment, also give the appropriate protective eyewear with polycarbonate lenses. Check with your ophthalmologist to learn about protective gear recommended for your child’s sport.
  • Check labels for age recommendations and be sure to select gifts that are appropriate for a child’s age and maturity.
  • Keep toys that are made for older children away from younger children.
  • If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek immediate medical attention from an ophthalmologist.

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

Eyes are particularly vulnerable to injuries. And serious injuries to the eye can have life-long effects. Commonly reported injuries from toys include corneal abrasions and ocular hyphema. More severe trauma can lead to retinal detachment, ruptured eyeball. and even blindness.

If your child experiences an eye injury from a toy, seek medical attention from an ophthalmologist right away. The good news is that most eye injuries can be easily prevented by following a few key safety tips.

Source https://www.aao.org/eye-health/news/buying-safe-toys


HIV/AIDS: The Basics

What is HIV/AIDS?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which is the virus that causes HIV infection. The abbreviation “HIV” can refer to the virus or to HIV infection.

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.

HIV attacks and destroys the infection-fighting CD4 cells of the immune system. The loss of CD4 cells makes it difficult for the body to fight off infections and certain cancers. Without treatment, HIV can gradually destroy the immune system and advance to AIDS.

How is HIV spread?

The spread of HIV from person to person is called HIV transmission. HIV is spread only in certain body fluids from a person who has HIV. These body fluids include:

  • Blood
  • Semen
  • Pre-seminal fluid
  • Vaginal fluids
  • Rectal fluids
  • Breast milk

HIV transmission is only possible through contact with HIV-infected body fluids. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by:

  • Having anal or vaginal sex with someone who has HIV without using a condom or taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV
  • Sharing injection drug equipment (works), such as needles, with someone who has HIV

The spread of HIV from a woman with HIV to her child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding is called mother-to-child transmission of HIV. For more information, read the AIDSinfo fact sheet on Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV.

You can’t get HIV by shaking hands or hugging a person who has HIV. You also can’t get HIV from contact with objects such as dishes, toilet seats, or doorknobs used by a person with HIV. HIV is not spread through the air or in water or by mosquitoes, ticks, or other blood-sucking insects.

 

How can I reduce my risk of getting HIV?

To reduce your risk of HIV infection, use condoms correctly every time you have sex, limit your number of sexual partners, and never share injection drug equipment.

Also talk to your health care provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who don’t have HIV but who are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP involves taking a specific HIV medicine every day. For more information, read the AIDSinfo fact sheet on PrEP.

HIV medicines, given to women with HIV during pregnancy and childbirth and to their babies after birth, reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. In addition, because HIV can be transmitted in breast milk, women with HIV who live in the United States should not breastfeed their babies. Baby formula is a safe and healthy alternative to breast milk and is readily available in the United States.

 

What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?

Within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV, some people may have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, or rash. The symptoms may last for a few days to several weeks. During this earliest stage of HIV infection, the virus multiplies rapidly.

After the initial stage of infection, HIV continues to multiply but at very low levels. More severe symptoms of HIV infection, such as signs of opportunistic infections, generally don’t appear for many years. (Opportunistic infections are infections and infection-related cancers that occur more frequently or are more severe in people with weakened immune systems than in people with healthy immune systems.)

Without treatment with HIV medicines, HIV infection usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, though it may advance faster in some people.

HIV transmission is possible at any stage of HIV infection—even if a person with HIV has no symptoms of HIV.

Source https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/fact-sheets/19/45/hiv-aids–the-basics


Misconceptions About Flu Vaccines

Can a flu vaccine give you the flu?

No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are currently made in two ways: the vaccine is made either with a) flu viruses that have been ‘inactivated’ (killed) and that therefore are not infectious, or b) using only a single gene from a flu virus (as opposed to the full virus) in order to produce an immune response without causing infection. This is the case for  recombinant influenza vaccines.

 

Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over the others?

For the 2019-2020 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends annual influenza (flu) vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status, including inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), or live attenuated nasal spray influenza vaccine (LAIV4) with no preference expressed for any one vaccine over another.

There are many vaccine options to choose from, but the most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.

 

Is it better to get the flu than the flu vaccine?

No. Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.

 

Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?

Yes. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for just about everyone 6 months and older, even when the viruses the vaccine protects against have not changed from the previous season. The reason for this is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” or best protection against the flu.

 

Why do some people not feel well after getting the seasonal flu vaccine?

Some people report having mild reactions to flu vaccination. The most common side effects from flu shots are soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given. Low-grade fever, headache and muscle aches also may occur. If these reactions occur, they usually begin soon after the shot and last 1-2 days. In randomized, blinded studies, where some people get inactivated flu shots and others get salt-water shots, the only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.

Side effects from the nasal spray flu vaccine may include: runny nose, wheezing, headache, vomiting, muscle aches, fever, sore throat and cough. If these problems occur, they usually begin soon after vaccination and are mild and short-lived. The most common reactions people have to flu vaccines are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu illness.

 

 

What about serious reactions to flu vaccine?

Serious allergic reactions to flu vaccines are very rare. If they do occur, it is usually within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination. While these reactions can be life-threatening, effective treatments are available.

 

What about people who get a seasonal flu vaccine and still get sick with flu symptoms?

There are several reasons why someone might get a flu symptoms, even after they have been vaccinated against flu.

1.    One reason is that some people can become ill from other respiratory viruses besides flu such as rhinoviruses, which are associated with the common cold, cause symptoms similar to flu, and also spread and cause illness during the flu season. The flu vaccine only protects against influenza, not other illnesses.

2.    Another explanation is that it is possible to be exposed to influenza viruses, which cause the flu, shortly before getting vaccinated or during the two-week period after vaccination that it takes the body to develop immune protection. This exposure may result in a person becoming ill with flu before protection from the vaccine takes effect.

3.    A third reason why some people may experience flu like symptoms despite getting vaccinated is that they may have been exposed to a flu virus that is very different from the viruses the vaccine is designed to protect against. The ability of a flu vaccine to protect a person depends largely on the similarity or “match” between the viruses selected to make the vaccine and those spreading and causing illness. There are many different flu viruses that spread and cause illness among people. For more information, see Influenza (Flu) Viruses.

4.    The final explanation for experiencing flu symptoms after vaccination is that the flu vaccine can vary in how well it works and some people who get vaccinated may still get sick.

 

Can vaccinating someone twice provide added immunity?

In adults, studies have not shown a benefit from getting more than one dose of vaccine during the same influenza season, even among elderly persons with weakened immune systems. Except for some children, only one dose of flu vaccine is recommended each season.

 

Is it true that getting a flu vaccine can make you more susceptible to other respiratory viruses?

There was one studyexternal icon (published in 2012) that suggested that influenza vaccination might make people more susceptible to other respiratory infections. After that study was published, many experts looked into this issue further and conducted additional studies to see if the findings could be replicated. No other studies have found this effect. For example, this article [99 KB, 5 pages]external icon in Clinical Infectious Diseases (published in 2013). It’s not clear why this finding was detected in the one study, but the preponderance of evidence suggests that this is not a common or regular occurrence and that influenza vaccination does not, in fact, make people more susceptible to other respiratory infections.

Source https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/misconceptions.htm


Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Flu

The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu. There also are flu antiviral drugs that can be used to treat and prevent flu. The tips and resources below will help you learn about steps you can take to protect yourself and others from flu and help stop the spread of germs.

1.    Get Vaccinated.

2.     Avoid close contact.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

3.     Stay home when you are sick.
If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

4.     Cover your mouth and nose.
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough, and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing, or unclean hands.

5.     Clean your hands.
Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

6.     Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

7.     Practice other good health habits.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Source https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/actions-prevent-flu.htm


Influenza Key Facts

What is Influenza (Flu)?

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Flu Symptoms

Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

How Flu Spreads

Most experts believe that flu viruses spread mainly by tiny droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes.

How Many People Get Sick with Flu Every Year?

A 2018 CDC study published in Clinical Infectious Diseasesexternal icon looked at the percentage of the U.S. population who were sickened by flu using two different methods and compared the findings. Both methods had similar findings, which suggested that on average, about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season, with a range of between 3% and 11%, depending on the season.

Why is the 3% to 11% estimate different from the previously cited 5% to 20% range?

The commonly cited 5% to 20% estimate was based on a study that examined both symptomatic and asymptomatic influenza illness, which means it also looked at people who may have had the flu but never knew it because they didn’t have any symptoms. The 3% to 11% range is an estimate of the proportion of people who have symptomatic flu illness.

Who is most likely to be infected with influenza?

The same CID studyexternal icon found that children are most likely to get sick from flu and that people 65 and older are least likely to get sick from influenza. Median incidence values (or attack rate) by age group were 9.3% for children 0-17 years, 8.8% for adults 18-64 years, and 3.9% for adults 65 years and older. This means that children younger than 18 are more than twice as likely to develop a symptomatic flu infection than adults 65 and older.

How is seasonal incidence of influenza estimated?

Influenza virus infection is so common that the number of people infected each season can only be estimated. These statistical estimations are based on CDC-measured flu hospitalization rates that are adjusted to produce an estimate of the total number of influenza infections in the United States for a given flu season.

The estimates for the number of infections are then divided by the census population to estimate the seasonal incidence (or attack rate) of influenza.

Does seasonal incidence of influenza change based on the severity of flu season?

Yes. The proportion of people who get sick from flu varies. A paper published in CIDexternal icon found that between 3% and 11% of the U.S. population gets infected and develops flu symptoms each year. The 3% estimate is from the 2011-2012 season, which was an H1N1-predominant season classified as being of low severity. The estimated incidence of flu illness during two seasons was around 11%; 2012-2013 was an H3N2-predominant season classified as being of moderate severity, while 2014-2015 was an H3N2 predominant season classified as being of high severity.

 

Period of Contagiousness

You may be able to spread flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

  • People with flu are most contagious in the first 3-4 days after their illness begins.
  • Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
  • Some people, especially young children and people with weakened immune systems, might be able to infect others for an even longer time.

Onset of Symptoms

The time from when a person is exposed and infected with flu to when symptoms begin is about 2 days, but can range from about 1 to 4 days.

Complications of Flu

Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes.

People at High Risk from Flu

Anyone can get flu (even healthy people), and serious problems related to flu can happen at any age, but some people are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications if they get sick. This includes people 65 years and older, people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease), pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years.

Preventing Seasonal Flu

The first and most important step in preventing flu is to get a flu vaccine each year. Flu vaccine has been shown to reduce flu related illnesses and the risk of serious flu complications that can result in hospitalization or even death. CDC also recommends everyday preventive actions (like staying away from people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes and frequent handwashing) to help slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

Source https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/keyfacts.htm