Editorial: Prevention is the best defense

Jan. 02, 2014 @ 11:04 PM

Thursday’s news on flu deaths in North Carolina was particularly disturbing once we looked inside the numbers.

Not only have 13 people died as a result of the flu, but almost all could have been considered in the prime of their lives. It is testament to what we’ve encouraged before — live every day. We never know when it’ll be our last.

By the numbers, seven of the 13 were between ages 25 and 49, five were between 50 and 64, and one was 65 or older.

According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, children under the age of 2, pregnant women and those with asthma, diabetes and heart disease are most at risk of complications from the flu. But it can get us all.

The flu can cause fever, coughing or a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, headaches and body aches, chills and fatigue. It should be pointed out, fatigue is a common source for a weakened immune system that gets hit.

If the symptoms escalate to the following, emergency medical care is recommended: difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting, discoloration (purple, blue) of the lips, signs of dehydration and seizures.

Vaccinations are strongly encouraged. Prevention is also assisted by gaining enough rest and sleep.

During the cold and flu season, washing our hands for 15 to 20 seconds with warm water and soap is another step toward prevention. If unavailable, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers are encouraged. When using the gel, rub the hands until the gel is dry, allowing the alcohol to kill the germs.

Keeping our hands away from our eyes, nose and mouth is another help. Some germs can live up to two hours on surfaces like doorknobs, desks and tables, according to the DHHS site.

In addition to our home, we should also be keeping our workplaces as free as possible of invasive germs.

The cold and flu season is in full swing. Another blast of cold, Artic air is forecast for the coming days, with severe windchills expected as far south as Atlanta.

We wish everyone well. But also, watch out for others, taking steps to keep everyone healthy.