This is peak flu season, and America has been hit hard. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the current flu outbreak is on track to be one of the most active. Thirteen children have already died from the virus.
A 21-year-old Pittsburgh-area bodybuilder is one of the most recent flu fatalities. Kyler Baughman died only a few days after first experiencing symptoms. "It doesn't seem real," his mother Beverly told KPXI, adding her son appeared to be the picture of health. "He was going to school studying to be a personal trainer."
With tears in his eyes and voice cracking, Kyler's father Todd Baughman said he wants to prevent this from happening to anyone else. "Try to know your body," he said. "Whenever you have fever and you have it multiple days, don't let it go. Get it taken care of."
Dr. Crystal Moore agrees with that advice. The Chesapeake, Virginia pathologist told CBN News people should, "Get to the doctor as early as possible," noting that certain anti-viral medications work best when administered as close to the onset of symptoms as possible.
Dr. Moore says flu symptoms include extreme fatigue, muscle aches, vomiting and fever. She says the most vulnerable people are the very old and the very young. "Years ago I performed an autopsy on a beautiful little boy who was about two years old when he succumbed to the disease," she recalled, "It was such as sad loss for what can be a preventable disease."
Get the Flu Shot: Dr. Moore says the most important way to prevent getting the flu is getting the flu vaccine. Kyler Baughman reportedly did not get one this flu season. "It's not too late to get the flu vaccine," Dr. Moore said, adding, "The benefits of getting it outweigh the risks, and the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu."
She said despite fears to the contrary, there is no evidence the flu vaccine causes autism.
Wash Your Hands or Use Hand Sanitizer Often: Keeping your hands clean is another key prevention technique. "Flu viruses can be picked up on hard surfaces like door knobs and hand rails," Dr. Moore pointed out.
Avoid People with the Flu: Dr. Moore says staying away from sick people is critical. She says people who are under the weather should do their part. "If you're sick, do yourself and everyone else a favor by staying home," she advised.
If you are exposed to the flu virus, a strong immune system goes a long way towards fighting it. Health experts say a number of lifestyle choices strengthen the immune system such as:
1. Improving gut health with probiotic and prebiotic foods, supplements or both
2. Getting adequate sleep
3. Managing Stress
4. Consuming plenty of vitamins and nutrients from foods and supplements
5. Avoiding inflammatory foods and drinks such as sugary, processed items
The CDC says each year between nine and 35 million Americans get the flu, resulting in between 140,000 to 170,000 hospitalizations. Between 12,000 and 56,000 people died from complications from the flu.
The flu costs an average of more than $10 billion in medical care each year and more than $16 billion in lost earnings.