Not just a runny nose

Influenza is not just a runny nose or and a stuffy head.

Influenza is serious business. If you have the flu, you can expect to be sick from five to 10 days.

Influenza is an extremely contagious respiratory disease caused by infection with either Type A or Type B influenza virus.

These viruses can be spread by sneezing, coughing, or by touching contaminated objects.

So what can we do about it?

An annual flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu and the flu-related complications that could lead to hospitalization and even death.

“Don’t take chances with your family’s health. Make sure you all get vaccinated against influenza (flu) every year,” Dickinson-Iron District Health Department officials say.

To accommodate families’ busy schedules, the Health Department is now offering evening flu clinics Mondays in October from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., said Denise Berland, Office Supervisor for the Health Department.

For more information or an appointment, call 774-1868 or (906) 265-9913. Walk-ins are welcome too.

In addition, community clinics will be held at the following locations:

– Norway School, today, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

– Sagola Senior Center, Thursday, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

– North Dickinson School, Thursday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

– West Iron County School, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

– Forest Park School, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Flu can make you, your children, or your parents really sick,” Berland said. “Flu usually comes on suddenly.”

Symptoms can include high fever, chills, headaches, exhaustion, sore throat, cough, and all-over body aches.

Some people say, “It felt like a truck hit me.”

Symptoms can also be mild. Regardless, when flu strikes your family, the result is lost time from work and school.

Flu spreads easily from person to person.

Those infected can spread flu when they cough, sneeze, or just talk near others, Berland said.

They can also spread it by touching or sneezing on an object that someone else touches later.

And, an infected person doesn’t have to feel sick to be contagious, she said. He or she can spread flu to others before symptoms have even begun.

Flu and its complications can be so serious that it can lead to hospitalization or even death.

Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. from flu and its complications, Berland said.

Between 3,000 and 50,000 die, showing us how unpredictable the flu can be.

Those most vulnerable to flu are infants, young children, older adults, and people of all ages who have conditions such as heart or lung disease.

But remember, it’s not only the youngest, oldest, or sickest who die, Berland said. Every year the flu virus kills people who were otherwise healthy.

“Flu can be a very serious disease for you, your family, and friends but you can all lessen the risk of getting the flu by getting vaccinated,” Berland said.

There’s no substitute for yearly vaccination in protecting the people you love from flu. Either type of flu vaccine (the shot or nasal spray) will help keep you and your loved ones safe from a potentially deadly disease.

“Get vaccinated every year,” she said. “Get your children vaccinated. Be sure your parents get vaccinated, too.”

Call the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department at 774-1868 or 265-9913 for an appointment or more information.

Flu clinics are also being held by the Florence County Health Department.

The Florence County Health Department will be holding community a flu clinic at the former Hillcrest school in Aurora on Wednesday, Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., said Sarah Giddings, Administrative Assistant for the Florence County Health Department.

For more information, call 715-528-4837.