Cold & Flu Discussion with GBMC's Dr. Bailey
You feel like crawling under the covers and sleeping for weeks. Your head hurts, you’re feverish, and can’t stop coughing. Your whole body just hurts. If this sounds familiar, then you might have the flu. Each year, between 5% and 20% of people in the U.S. will get the flu, about 200,000 of them will end up in the hospital, and worldwide up to 500,000 people will die as a result of complications of the flu. Dr. Theodore Bailey, an infectious disease specialist at GBMC, talked with Magic 95.9 host April Watts about what you can do to lower your risk of catching the flu, colds, and other viruses that can make you miserable this winter.
“No one is invulnerable to the flu,” explains Dr. Bailey. “Anyone, any age can get it. For some people, however, the flu can pose more serious health risks. Children under 2 and people over 65, people on medications that suppress the immune system, and pregnant women all face higher risks of serious complications as a result of the flu. Flu can also be more dangerous for people in nursing homes and those living with chronic health problems like asthma and heart disease. That’s why it’s so important to get a flu shot every year. You’re not only protecting yourself, you’re doing a public service and protecting your loved ones and others for whom the flu can be especially dangerous.”
Dr. Bailey talked about why you need to get a flu shot each year, calling the flu a living curveball that’s constantly changing its genetic makeup. He also explained why some people get the flu even after they’re vaccinated, how having the flu can increase your risk of serious respiratory diseases including pneumonia, and why even mid flu season, it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
“While the flu shot is key, don’t forget the other low tech, but extremely effective ways that you can protect yourself against the flu and other illnesses all year long,” adds Dr. Bailey. “Good frequent handwashing or the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can significantly lower your risk of getting sick with a range of viruses and bacterial illnesses.”