Staying Healthy During Flu Season
Influenza is a viral infection that is easily transmitted from person to person. The infection mainly affects the nose, throat, and bronchi, but occasionally affects the lungs. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, chills, body aches, headache, and fatigue. In serious cases, complications such as pneumonia can develop. Most people who have the flu will recover within 1-2 weeks, but nobody wants to contract the virus at all. Few people can afford the time away from work or school. So how does one stay healthy during flu season?
First, it is important to understand how the virus spreads among people. The virus is spread by the droplets that are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Other people breathe the germs into their system or touch a surface that the infected person has touched. To help protect yourself and your family during this flu season, you should cover your nose and mouth with a tissue each time you cough or sneeze. Remember to throw the tissue away after each use. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your elbow or upper sleeve, not into your hands. Your hands should be washed often with soap and warm water, especially after sneezing or coughing. Alcohol based hand sanitizers can be used at times when you are unable to wash. You should avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth. If you do become sick, try to limit your contact with others. Stay home from work or school until you have been fever free for at least 24 hours.
The most important thing people can do to avoid getting the flu is to get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a flu shot this year. This season’s flu vaccine will protect against three different flu strains: an influenza A virus, an influenza B virus, and the H1N1 virus. Individuals considered at high risk for flu complications include very young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic health problems such as asthma, diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease. Health care workers and care givers of young children should all be protected. Children under the age of nine who are getting the flu shot for the first time may need two shots one month apart to be fully protected. The FluMist nasal vaccine is an alternative to the shot for healthy children and adults ages 2 to 49 years. With the flu shot and these common sense health tips, everyone can stay healthy during the coming flu season.