Cold and flu season has made its grand entrance, and for those of us with busy schedules, whether its work, school, or taking care of the kids, our health is a top priority. Don’t take this cold and flu season lightly. In the 2014-2015 flu season, the Center for Disease and Control reported that 34 million Americans contracted the flu, with 710,000 of them hospitalized, and 148 pediatric cases fatal. As this cold and flu season begins and the virus spreads, take the proper health precautions to keep you and your family safe.
What is influenza (flu)?
The CDC defines the flu as a “respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.” When considering this virus, It’s not a matter of if it will spread nationally, it’s a matter of when, and how bad the effects will be.
What are the symptoms of the flu?
We don’t know exactly how bad this flu season will be, but the symptoms this virus causes are never fun, and potentially very dangerous. Many people disregard their flu symptoms because they think they have a cold. The flu affects your body much differently than the average cold, and if you’re not careful, these symptoms could put you in the hospital. Here are the main symptoms to look out for this flu season.
- fever – although, not everyone with the flu will have a fever
- sore throat
- runny or stuffy nose
- body aches
- diarrhea and vomiting
How does the flu spread? If I have it, when am I contagious?
Most health professionals believe the flu is an airborne illness that spreads when tiny droplets of the virus are emitted from a sneeze, cough, or even talking. When you have the flu, contagiousness can vary. Most people are very contagious approximately three to four days after the illness begins. This varies depending on the strength of your immune system and your age.
How can I stay healthy this flu season?
Get a flu vaccine
If you want to stay healthy this flu season, make sure you get your flu shot. While the flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t contract the virus, it’s been shown to reduce its most terrible symptoms and complications that could result in hospitalization.
Wash your hands often
You should already do this year-round, but it’s particularly important to wash your hands often during flu season. From shaking hands and opening doors to answering telephones, the amount of objects and people you come in to contact with on a daily basis is endless, and during peak flu season those germs spread quickly.
Carry hand sanitizer
Disinfect things you use and touch every day
Use disinfectant disposable wipes to make sure your surroundings are clean, like your desk or telephone at work. While this may seem over-the-top, you want to avoid germs in as many ways as possible.
Cover your mouth and nose
It’s not just to practice proper manners; it’s to prevent the spread of germs. Make sure to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, especially during flu season, to prevent any potential viruses from spreading.
Get sufficient rest and sleep
When your body doesn’t have enough rest, your immune system can be compromised. Make sure during flu season especially, you get enough sleep.
Maintain your health
Another way you can potentially compromise your immune system is poor nutrition. Make sure your body gets the right vitamins and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Maintain proper health, and if you start to feel symptoms of the flu, like congestion and sore throat, make sure you take the proper medication for relief.
Keep these health tips in mind as the flu season begins, and try your best to stay healthy and safe all season long.