By Lynda Mason
Living in New England, Milford and Stratford residents always have something special to look forward to at this time of year. We’ve got brilliant foliage in the Fall and picturesque, snowy landscapes in Winter. But there’s one seasonal event that nobody in New England is looking forward to: flu season.
While most of us consider the flu to be a minor inconvenience, the truth is that this seasonal contagion has a significant part to play for just about every family in the country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 20 percent of the U.S. population contracts influenza on an annual basis. So even if you’ve managed to steer clear, the chances are good that someone in your home will catch it—and it could cost you much more than a few boxes of tissues.
The CDC reports that flu cases cost $10.4 billion a year in direct medical expenses and $16.3 billion in lost earnings. Children, meanwhile, will miss an estimated 32 million days of school each year due to the flu.
Further, the flu leads to tens of thousands of hospitalizations, and worst of all, thousands of deaths caused by flu-like symptoms.
Looking at these figures makes it clear just how devastating the toll of influenza can be. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to ensure that you don’t contract, or spread, the flu this season.
Review the CDC’s updated influenza guidelines: Every year brings a new strain of influenza. This year is expected to be more virulent than the 2016 version, so it is important to stay informed. You can check out the CDC’s 2017-2018 flu season guide here.
Avoid doctor’s offices and hospitals: As a contagious virus, doctors’ offices and hospitals are natural vectors for the flu. There are good odds of encountering someone with the flu, or passing it to others, if you go to these facilities. For that reason, many individuals opt to act preemptively and get flu shots at retail pharmacies before they get sick. If you think you may have the flu, check with your PCP about their telehealth services so that a doctor can diagnose you over a videoconference instead.
Of course, every individual has different needs when it comes to flu shots, and you should consult with your physician to first see if it is the right decision for you or your family.
Practice good health habits: The flu, like any other germ, cannot thrive in a sterile environment. While the CDC does state that flu shots are the single most effective way to prevent flu, it also names a number of health-conscious choices you can make that will help you avoid contracting the virus. This includes: washing your hands, avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth, drinking lots of fluids, getting lots of sleep and eating nutritious meals.
At The Milford Bank, we believe that physical health and financial health go hand in hand. Taking care of your body will help you take care of your finances, so when it comes to flu season, we want to make sure our customers don’t end up spending the next few months in bed with a thermometer under their tongue and a ball of tissues in hand. To learn more ways to stay in good shape—both physically and financially—check out our Online Learning Center here.