Flu Fighters For Your Team
The influenza season is revving up, with more cases than anticipated for this time of year. I have already seen a bunch of people with the “flu,” including some who needed to be hospitalized temporarily due to a worsening of their other medical conditions. Thankfully, there are measures we all can take to decrease our risk of getting the flu. This includes the flu vaccine, as well as certain “natural” defensive measures to control the spread of the viral illness.
Just a Virus, Right?
Anyone who has ever experienced illness due to the “flu” knows that symptoms range from minor to severe. While some have minimal illness, others are flat-out in bed with fever, aches and pains, along with the potential to make their other medical conditions worse. In fact, 3,000 to 49,000 people die each year from “flu-associated” illness, while an average of 200,000 are hospitalized due to “complications” from the flu. Needless to say, you would be saving yourself many uncomfortable days of illness by considering the influenza vaccine.
Who Should Get the Vaccine?
Anyone age six months and above who would like to decrease their risk for getting the flu should consider the vaccine. As long as you are not allergic to the components in the vaccine and you do not have other medical reasons that would prevent you from receiving the “flu shot,” it is important to speak with your physician to see if this immunization would be beneficial to your health. The following groups are especially encouraged to consider influenza vaccination:
- All healthcare personnel
- Pregnant women
- People 50 and older
- People with health conditions such as diabetes, lung, kidney and heart disease
- People who care for others with a high risk of complications from the flu (infants less than six months of age, elderly, others)
Another reason to consider the “flu shot” is to protect those who cannot receive the vaccine. In other words, the more people who are protected, the less chance this virus will spread to others.
Natural Measures to Fight the Spread of the Flu Virus
1. Wash hands frequently with soap and water. Antibacterial soaps are not needed as the flu is a virus. The mechanical washing using regular soap, ensuring you get between your finger spaces as well as the back of the hands works well to get rid of this virus. Wash for the time it takes you to sing (or hum quietly) the “Happy Birthday” song.
2. Use hand sanitizer - not all are created equal and not all work effectively. Please check with your doctor or pharmacist, or refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest tips.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The influenza virus can live for two to five minutes on the surface of your hands after coming into contact with the virus. This allows for easier access into the body through the eyes, nose or mouth.
4. Use disposable tissues, not handkerchiefs or other
cloth items. This is especially important as the influenza virus can live at
least 12 hours on those warm and moist
handkerchiefs kept in your pockets or purse.
5. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve, not your hand or into the air, uncovered. Viral particles can become airborne and can spread to others at least six feet away.
6. Keep “high-touch” objects such as doorknobs, keyboards, public phones and countertops clean. Wash periodically with specially treated wipes, or just use soap and water. This is important because the influenza virus has the potential to live on these hard surfaces anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
7. Disinfect germ-spreading surfaces (gloves, purses and toys). While the gloves may be protecting your hands from the virus, they still may contain the flu virus on their surface and spread to doorknobs, others with whom you shake hands, etc. Purses are dropped on so many surfaces that you never know what they came in contact with, so it’s always a good idea to clean them off. Don’t forget to periodically clean any toys as the influenza virus can live on them for 12 to 24 hours.
8. Stay home if you are sick. You are contagious to others for at least four days after your flu symptoms have appeared (as well as one day prior to your outward symptoms).
9. Get plenty of rest to allow your body’s immune system to stay healthy and strong.
10. Eat healthier foods to maximize nutrition and body health. Your body needs nutritious fuel to fight through the illness and stress to the body.
Let’s do all we can to maximize our chances of being champion “flu-fighters.”