Though temperatures in the Houston area are already mild, it doesn't mean your chances of contracting the flu are over. The flu generally peaks in January and February, according to the CDC, with flu season continuing all the way through May. Don't be fooled by the warm climate, Houston is currently under a flu advisory, according to FluFACTS.com, ranking just slightly lower than the national average when it comes to reported cases of the flu. With the virus still going strong, pregnant women need to be extra-cautious to avoid contracting the flu.
The risks are high
Since pregnant women are included in the high risk category for developing complications from the flu--such as pneumonia, preterm labor and delivery, and, possibly, an increased risk for the development of autism in their child--avoiding the dangerous virus remains critical for women and their unborn babies.
Prevention of the flu
The best protection from contracting the flu is the seasonal flu shot, and it may not be too late to receive one from your healthcare provider. Just make sure to request the shot, not the mist, since the mist is made from a live virus that may not be safe during all stages of pregnancy. If you have had the flu shot, the vaccine not only protects you, but will help boost the immunity of your little one once he's born. Hand-washing, avoiding those who are sick, and not touching your eyes, mouth, or nose are also ways to prevent the spread of germs and to avoid catching the flu.
What to look for
Flu shot or not, it's important to be aware of the symptoms of the flu and how they differ from a standard cold. While a cold and the flu may have similar symptoms, flu symptoms come on suddenly and are typically much more intense than those of a cold. Symptoms of the flu include:
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- body aches
- vomiting or diarrhea
What to do if you have the flu
If you're suffering from these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately to determine if prescription antiviral medication is recommended. Be sure to stay well-hydrated by drinking water and avoiding sugary drinks, get plenty of rest, and eat small meals until you begin to feel better.