I’m sure you’ve heard in the news lately that influenza is making it’s way across the United States at a record breaking pace. So what do you need to know and do to protect yourself?
What Exactly Is The Flu?
Seasonal influenza also referred to as The Flu is different than a cold. It’s a strain of either type A or B influenza viruses. The symptoms include sudden fever, coughing, aches and pains in the joints, runny nose, sore throat and headache. The cough can be severe and last several weeks and can also develop into pneumonia.
How Can I Protect Myself?
- First of all, get your flu shot. This flu season, it’s estimated that the flu shot is only about 30% effective, but 30% is better than 0%. Influenza viruses are constantly changing and evolving, which is why sometimes the vaccine is not protection enough.
- Stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing. It’s ok to be rude about this. The flu virus hangs around in the respiratory system and is transmitted via coughing and sneezing. When these germs are projected by a sneeze or a cough, they can travel up to three feet! It’s also a good idea to cover your own mouth and nose with a paper procedure mask. You can pick these up at your local hospital or purchase them in most stores near the first aid supplies.
- Wash your hands. Often. Avoid touching your mouth, face, nose or eyes. These places are moist and the germs you may have on your hands are looking for a warm moist environment to thrive. Wear surgical gloves if you’re caring for someone at home who has tested positive for the flu. If you can’t, then wash your hands after you touch any common surface. Did you flip on a light switch? Touch a door knob? Push a shopping cart? Wash your hands, if you can’t get to a sink, a hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol is your next line of defense.
- If you have a family member home with the flu, wash all of the communal surfaces daily. Try to contain the person who is ill to a bedroom with an adjoining bathroom and limit who can go in to care for the patient. Wipe down chargers, remotes, light switches, door knobs and counters often.
- Eat well! It’s no surprise that you are what you eat, so load up on protein and eat healthy if you want to stay healthy. Diets that are too low in protein can depelete the immune system, so have a boiled egg for a snack and load up on lean meats. Your body needs the fuel to stay healthy.
You Still Managed to Get The Flu?
Sometimes, and especially if a family member comes down with the flu, it’s impossible to avoid it and you find yourself home sick. Rest. Relax. Do your best to get as much sleep as possible over the next few days. Once you do find yourself feeling better, be careful not to overdo it at first. Take things slow and pace yourself. Give yourself time to heal before you jump right back in!