No one likes getting sick, but some bugs are more serious than others. While cold symptoms last anywhere from 48 hours to 14 days, the common cold is rarely responsible for serious hospitalizations or even fatalities. The flu, on the other hand, can have major consequences if not prevented or treated quickly. While American options for flu treatment aren’t quite on par with those developed in Japan, there are still ways to ensure you stay healthy for the rest of flu season.
In the average year, approximately 200,000 Americans are hospitalized due to flu complications. This flu season has been particularly bad, with experts estimating that infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities could be on par with the last pandemic, which was 2009’s H1N1 swine flu. And although flu season has passed its peak, the illness still remains a threat for many families.
Over in Japan, researchers have wasted no time in developing a solution. The developer of a breakthrough drug called Xofluza, which has been given fast-tracked approval from the country’s health ministry, claims that the medication can kill the flu virus within 24 hours. That’s faster than any other available treatment on the market, including Tamiflu — and unlike Tamiflu, it requires only a single dose. While it won’t be available in Japan until May, most likely, and probably won’t make its way to the U.S. until 2019, the treatment still holds a lot of promise for keeping this virus in check. Considering that the average cost of just one day in a U.S. hospital was $4,293 in 2013, many Americans will be grateful for something like this.
But until then, there are things you can do to avoid getting the dreaded flu. First of all, you should definitely get your flu shot. While reports stated that this year’s immunizations weren’t quite as effective as in years past, it’s still your body’s best defense against influenza. And of course, you should wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently. Try to keep social contact a bit more scarce during flu season, especially since flu symptoms can take a few days to develop and can be spread so easily. To boost your immune system and help it fight off illness, make sure to keep up your exercise routine, get plenty of sleep, reduce stress whenever possible, and consume a diet that’s rich in fruits and veggies.
And what if there are people in your home or office who have already fallen ill? At work, encourage sick employees to stay home, provide hands-free hand sanitizer and garbage disposal stations, and limit your in-person meetings. And at home, wear disposable masks and gloves around sick family members, and if you can, stay at least six feet away from them during the first two or three days of their illness. You should also avoid sharing towels or any other items with an infected person, and keep your hands away from your face as much as possible. While this might not work every time, it’ll reduce your chances of becoming quarantined yourself.
Despite the fact that flu season is waning, you should still take care to protect yourself and your family. By following these tips and keeping your eye on potential treatments from outside the U.S., many are hopeful that this year’s horrific flu season will be an anomaly, rather than the standard.