Brace yourself Australia, we are on track for a killer flu season. Three times as many people have been diagnosed with the flu virus so far this year, compared to the same period in previous years. In March, more than 10,000 people were diagnosed with the flu. In March 2018, that number was 3,173.
So, why is there so much flu around already?
In 2018, Australia had a pretty quiet flu season and that means that community immunity wasn’t built up to protect against this year’s virus.
Because of this, Chair of the Immunisation Coalition Professor Robert Booy, has warned Australians that many more people will be prone to the flu this year. There was also a long flu season in the Northern Hemisphere earlier in the year, up until about March. Many Australians went to the US for holidays earlier in the year and subsequently brought the flu back.
How deadly is it?
Most deaths from the flu occur in people aged over 65 and are usually from complications such as heart attacks or stroke. Professor Booy said in a busy year, there were a number of people who would be expected to get the flu and die from it. “This year, we expect the flu to kill at least 4,000 people which is the same number as deaths from suicide and the road toll combined,” he said.
This may seem extreme, but the flu can cause pneumonia or a secondary bacterial infection that can be fatal, particularly among those at high risk of flu-related complications— for example, people who are pregnant, have asthma, or suffer from other chronic conditions. Even in the best-case scenarios, it sucks to get the flu. Therefore, it is more important than ever to take precautions before the winter season hits.
Here are the best ways to avoid contracting the flu:
Get. Your. Flu shot.
When you get a flu vaccination your body releases antibodies that can protect you from the most common virus strains in any given season. It’s best to get your shot before flu season peaks as it takes two weeks for your immunity to develop. Therefore, the earlier you get it the better.
Experts said early April is a good time to get a vaccine “With the flu [rates] three times as high this year as last year, we can stop transmission now if people get vaccinated,” Professor Booy said. “Otherwise the numbers could rise even more”. Flu season in Australia usually runs from June to September, peaking in August, so there is still time to get it!
Start regular salt therapy
Salt room therapy can help cold and flu sufferers relieve their symptoms and feel better in a relaxing and peaceful environment that feels more like a spa than a high-tech medical facility. By sitting in Salts of the Earth’s salt rooms you will be exposed to a dry salt aerosol. The size of the microscopic salt particles enables it to be inhaled deep down into your lungs, lining the walls of the airways and lungs and promoting muco-ciliary clearance. It does this by gently stimulating the body’s natural action of cilia movement in the respiratory system working as “a gentle brush” to clean the
airways of mucus, allergens and other foreign substances that often accompany cold and flu. Additionally, the sodium chloride aka “salt” changes the consistency of mucus in the lungs and airways so that it is thinner and less sticky – therefore making it easier to expel, clearing congestion in the chest so you can fight and recover from the flu quickly. Regular salt therapy can also help boost your immune system so you can help fight the flu before it takes hold!
Keep your communal surfaces clean
All household surfaces are going to be contaminated with the flu virus if you’re living with someone who has the flu. That is why you should wipe down commonly-touched surfaces — think phone chargers, fridge handles, and light switches — at least once a day using any standard household cleaner.
Wash your hands regularly
Touch a light switch? Communal keyboard? Water cooler? Whether you’re in a public place or in your home, it’s smart to wash your hands after handling any commonly-touched surfaces using soap and water afterward. Lather up for at least 20 seconds, then rinse under water, and air dry or pat dry with a clean towel. In the absence of a sink, a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol is your next best bet.