If you check out the CDC weekly influenza map, you'll notice one thing -- a whole lot of brown. It's true, the flu season has hit the US hard this year, with brown indicating widespread, confirmed cases of influenza throughout the country.
The CDC reports that this year's strain of flu is producing more severe disease, with more deaths and hospitalizations. In fact, in Boston last week, Mayor Menino announced a public health emergency as hospitals and nursing homes were inundated with new cases. Compared to last year's 70 reported cases, the city has confirmed 700 cases of flu with 4 flu-related deaths.
In light of these alarming statistics, people with COPD should do everything they can to protect themselves against the flu. This includes:
- Getting a flu vaccine. Even if you haven't done so yet, it's not too late. Many cities offer low cost flu shots at local drug stores like Rite Aid and Walgreens.
- Wash your hands frequently. Don't forget to use proper handwashing technique.
- Stay away from sick people. This includes crowds, sick friends and relatives.
- Sneeze and cough into a tissue. Discard immediately afterward and wash or sanitize your hands.
Fighting infections like the cold and flu can help you prevent COPD exacerbation, the number one reason why people with COPD seek emergency treatment and are admitted to the hospital.