Eschew the Flu: Don’t Fall Victim to This Year’s Bug
News about the dangers of this year’s influenza is spreading as fast as the virus itself. The illness got an early start in 2018 and is already at near-epidemic levels, according to the CDC. To avoid the misery of the flu, the CDC recommends taking the following precautions:
- First and foremost—get vaccinated now. While reports indicate the vaccine isn’t as effective as in past years, it still offers some protection and helps prevent spreading it to those more likely to experience serious consequences from the flu. It can take up to two weeks for the body to build up defenses against the virus, so the sooner you get vaccinated the better.
- Keep your distance. Avoid close contact with people who are sick; be considerate when you are sick and stay away from others.
- Stay home. Call out of work, stay home from school, and avoid public places to prevent spreading your illness to others. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (except to seek medical care).
- Cover up. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing to prevent spreading germs.
- Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Hands off! Avoid touching your face, as germs are often spread when you touch something contaminated with the flu and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Channel your inner Mr. Clean. Wash and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work, or school. Keep tubs of disinfecting wipes handy.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep; stay active; manage stress; drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritiously.
What To Do If You Get The Flu
If all your efforts at prevention fail and the telltale signs of the flu arrive—fever and chills, headache, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, exhaustion, and runny or stuffy nose (sometimes diarrhea and vomiting)—call your healthcare provider. Your physician might be able to prescribe an antiviral medicine such as Tamiflu, which can make the infection less severe, shorten sick time, and reduce the chance of complications.
To ease the misery of the flu at home:
- Keep drinking. The flu can leave you dehydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of water, fruit juice, decaffeinated or herbal teas with honey, and beverages containing electrolytes. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic drinks.
- Sip soup. A bowl of hot soup is not only comforting, but studies have shown that chicken soup may actually help with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections like the flu.
- Netflix and chill. When you’re sick your body needs rest to fight the infection. Turn on a movie, become one with your couch, and let your body relax itself back to health.
- Get steamy. Breathing moist air helps ease nasal congestion and sore throat pain. Use a steam vaporizer or humidifier, or just turn on a hot shower and sit in the bathroom breathing in the warm air.
- Be a sucker. Cough drops, throat lozenges, and hard candy can ease a cough or sore throat.
- Get salty. Gargling with salt water eases a sore throat and helps get rid of thick mucus that can build up there.
- Pop a pill. If you are medically able, take an over the counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen to lower your temperature and ease muscle aches. Follow the dosage information on the label. (However, never give aspirin to children!)