If you’ve been watching the news, you know the flu is a serious health issue this season. I know in Memphis, the school system sent home a note about how to avoid the flu. But, it is nationwide. Actor Burt Reynolds was hospitalized in the ICU due to severe hydration from the flu.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? The government has set up a website (http://www.flu.gov) with tips to help you make it safely through the season.
The number one thing suggested by experts is to get vaccinated. The vaccination is available for children as young as six months. The flu is often more seriously dangerous for the young and old, so it is very important to get them vaccinated if at all possible. I am lucky because I work at a health science center and we are offered the vaccine for free, to give the residents a chance to practice giving shots (no, it’s not too traumatic; they do a good job).
Another thing is easy and basic – wash your hands. You should use soap and warm water, but if you don’t have access to a washroom, you can use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
It is also recommended that you keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is hard for me to remember because I like to chew on my nails and often rub my eyes. But, this is a good way for germs to be spread, so try to avoid it except when you are sneezing. Try to cover your mouth with a Kleenex, your hand or even better yet, use your elbow area. If you use your hand, remember to wash afterwards to prevent spreading the germs to others.
Another tip to avoid the flu is to practice good health habits. This includes avoiding stress, getting a good night’s sleep, staying hydrated, and eating healthy.
The final, yet very important tip is to watch your loved ones closely for signs of the flu which includes a 100 degree or higher fever, cough and/or sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills, fatigue, and nausea (vomiting and diarrhea). I saw a woman on television that monitored her son’s symptoms and took him to the emergency room just in time. He spent 5 days in the hospital, but it could have been potentially fatal if she hadn’t acted swiftly.