3 tips to help navigate flu season

Flu season is at hand, bringing with it another layer of complexity in a pandemic that already has taken more than 200,000 American lives.

The onset of infection from the flu is often similar to the coronavirus. In fact, so are the common cold and seasonal allergies. As a result, it’s possible that someone who is coming down with COVID could unknowingly infect others while waiting for a test result.

It is because of that inherent risk of infection that we all need to treat the onset of any illness with an abundance of caution, and to take other crucial steps. Here are three tips that will help you, your organization and your family safely navigate flu season.

Tip No. 1: At the first sign of possible illness, isolate.

You or your employees should stay home from work, and kids should stay home from school, at the first sign of illness, even if it might simply be a cold.

Some of the symptoms to watch for include fever, headache, congestion, body aches, and sudden loss of sense of smell or taste. The catch, though, is the COVID is easily mistaken for the flu, a cold or seasonal allergies. See this list to learn more about 12 common symptoms to watch for.

Generally speaking, watch for anything out of the ordinary this flu season, advises Catherine O’Neal, Our Lady of the Lake’s chief medical officer and an infectious disease specialist. It might be something as simple as a familiar symptom that lasts a little longer than usual.

Once isolated, contact your doctor to find out whether to make an appointment, get a COVID-19 or flu test, or simply self quarantine as a precaution. Be prepared to stay home from work or school even as you’re waiting to hear back from the doctor.

Tip No. 2: Get a flu shot now.

We don’t yet have an effective vaccine for coronavirus, but we do have them for the flu, and the time to get yours is now. It’s recommended that almost all adults and children six months and older get an annual flu vaccine. Even if the flu shot isn’t 100 percent effective, it can shorten the illness or lessen the severity of symptoms.

Our Lady of the Lake has made it easier than ever to get a flu shot this year. You can schedule an appointment in the MyChart app, or visit any one of these clinics offering flu shots to walk-ins and via drive-thru.

Tip No. 3: Don’t let your mask down!

You may be tempted to ease up when it comes to wearing a mask and social distancing, especially as Louisiana progresses through phases of reopening.

But it’s essential to mask up around others, social distance and wash your hands frequently. These precautions work for the coronavirus and the influenza virus.

And consider this: staying vigilant with masking and distancing could help you make it through flu season without getting sick at all.