Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~
You know that it is flu season. It has been reported that this attack of the disease is epidemic in 49 states, with Hawaii being the only escapee so far. There are no statistics on total flu deaths for this year, because the epidemic is just now reaching its peak. We do know that many people died last year because of the disease, and that at least 30 children are dead so far this year.
Many of the deaths have been the result of pneumonia. Children are normally among the healthiest members of our world, with the strongest lungs. That being the case, what does that mean for those of us with weak compromised lungs? The obvious answer is danger! Pneumonia is an ever-present threat to lungs damaged by emphysema, bronchitis, or other diseases. It is the cause of a great many of the dreaded “exacerbations,” the episodes of misery that knock us down so badly.
I have discussed the effects of exacerbations many times, but it deserves repeating, especially during this flu season. We can, and should exercise to build up the rest of our bodies, in order to counteract the effects of our wimpy lungs. Being otherwise strong allows us to maintain a decent quality of life, to do the things that we enjoy. We should exercise regularly, but we all know that it doesn’t always happen. It is so easy to put it off. It is hard, because it makes us short of breath, which is unpleasant.
Everything is a trade-off. You can sit on the couch all you want, and lie to yourself about your condition, but you risk losing the strength to fight off the nasties that are lurking out there, especially the flu bug. Trust me when I tell you that you do NOT want an episode of this flu. It has been said that severe flu seasons can kill upwards of 56,000 people every year in the US, and lead to up to $10.4 billion in direct medical costs. Researchers are saying that they have not seen a season this bad for at least a decade. Some say that this is the worst that they have ever seen.
So, what to do? If you are in a position to just stay at home and refuse to accept company, it might just be a good idea to do that for a while. Our daughter and her girlfriend just flew from Denver to spend a couple of days with us. Due to the anti-rejection drugs that I take by the handful, my immune system is pretty well suppressed. I take antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, and the like, and I have been remarkably well during the six years since my transplant, but the fact remains that my natural immunity is pretty weak. Consequently, I asked if both of them would agree to wear masks in the airports and on the plane. They readily agreed, and it resulted in one less source of exposure for them and for Mary and me.
If I do go shopping or to the theater, I don’t normally wear a mask. Right now, during the epidemic, I do. I have no idea If anyone stares at me because I am wearing it. I have long ago gotten over worrying about it. I don’t wear an oxygen cannula anymore, but if I did I would be sure to wear it whenever I was out of the house. I feel certain that the air coming out of a portable concentrator or an E tank is cleaner than most of the other air out there.
Mary and I also take the logical steps of shying away from anyone who is showing symptoms of the flu. We wash our hands with soap frequently and avoid touching our faces. If we do have to cough, we cough into the curve of our elbow, rather than spraying our surroundings with moist little germs.
Perhaps most importantly, we GET OUR FLU SHOTS religiously. A flu shot will not give you the flu! The viruses used in the shot are dead, so it is impossible! It is possible to feel slightly ill for a couple of days as your body busily manufactures the antibodies necessary to ward off the disease, but that is it. Also, as to the theory that the flu shot can cause autism in children, the only study that ever “proved” that theory was debunked, and the doctor responsible for the findings lost his medical license.
Please take a look at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm
~ Uncle Jim
Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.
If you have been prescribed oxygen therapy, learn more about CAIRE wearable, portable and stationary oxygen concentrators by visiting www.cairemedical.com or calling 1-877-704-0878 to talk to an oxygen advisor.
When using any oxygen therapy device please consult the applicable product instructions for use for product indications, contraindications, warnings, precautions, and detailed safety information.
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