Let’s Face it, the Flu sucks for everybody, but there are simple ways to avoid it.
We’re only a couple of months into this year’s Flu season and we’ve already had 3 people stay out of work for a solid week with the Flu. It definitely sucks for the person who has to endure being sick but it also sucks for the rest of us employees who have to take up the slack for the sick people, especially when there are multiple people who have gotten sick at the same time. The Flu can also be dangerous to certain individuals who may have a weakened (or not yet strong enough) immune system. Luckily, there are things that we can do to protect ourselves from getting the Flu and if you find yourself with this dreadful virus there are ways that you can help prevent your germs from spreading to other people.
Get yourself and your family vaccinated every year as soon as vaccinations are locally available.
It is no secret that the Flu is a horrible thing to endure, with symptoms that include high fever, severe joint and muscle aches, persistent coughing, constant headache, sore throat and an itchy and runny nose, everyone who gets this awful virus will be able to do nothing other than lie in the bed wishing they weren’t so painfully ill. This virus is a serious illness that causes many hospitalizations and deaths every single year.
There are a lot of people who are afraid of getting the Flu shot for different reasons but it is actually much safer to be vaccinated because actually getting the Flu can be very dangerous for many. I am among the group of people who are terrified of needles, there are also people who have gotten bad information. I could fill more than one article with all the bad information that is out there about vaccinations in general so we will save all of that for another time. As for the Flu vaccine, there is a false idea being spread around that it is common to catch the Flu from the vaccine. This isn’t going to happen because the virus that is in the vaccine has been killed so that it isn’t able to infect the person but it will cause their body to create antibodies so that in about 2 weeks they will have immunity. For the people, like me, who hate the idea of having a needle shoved into your arm there is some hope. We have 2 options, actually, there is a vaccine in the form of a nasal spray as well as an intradermal vaccine with a needle that’s 90% smaller than a regular injection needle.
Since just about every other vaccine out there offers lasting protection from a single (or a few) vaccinations it is easy to forget to get re-vaccinated every year for the Flu. The Flu vaccine is required every year because there are many different strains of the Flu virus and viruses also change and new ones appear as time goes on, so researches develop a brand new vaccine every single year to maximize everyone’s protection. It has also been shown that a person’s immunity declines over time.
As long as the vaccine supply is not compromised it is recommended that everyone get vaccinated for the Flu every single year with the major exception of children under 6 months of age. Other people who should avoid getting vaccinated include anyone who is severely allergic to eggs, has ever had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine in the past, or anyone who has ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Sometimes the supply for the vaccine runs low and it is important to limit vaccines to only those that are at higher risk.
As with any other vaccine there are mild side effects that may occur. It’s reasonable to expect soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given and it’s not uncommon to experience a low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, vomiting, runny nose, wheezing, sore throat and cough. These side effects are typically mild and should resolve themselves within a day or two with no further complications. To find a local vaccination center near you visit http://flushot.healthmap.org/
Wash your hands regularly.
While good hand washing habits are important to maintain throughout the year, it is especially important during Flu season to stay on top of your hand washing habits for the sake of yourself as well as everyone around you. It is easy to fall into the practice of forgetting to use soap and only rinsing the visible dirt from everyday activities but without soap and friction the process really isn’t very effective at removing the tiniest germs from hands that frequently find their way into the vulnerable mouth and eyes. To wash your hands properly you have to use enough soap for the lather to cover your hands entirely every single time and you should lather it up with hot water and rub all over your hands for at least 20 seconds, being sure to include under your nails and in between your fingers. After rinsing thoroughly be sure to dry your hands on something clean, otherwise you will put germs right back on your newly cleaned hands.
You should always wash your hands before, during and after preparing food, before eating food and after using the toilet or changing diapers but it’s just as important to remember to wash your hands after blowing your own nose or caring for someone else that is sick, after touching garbage or animal waste, and before and after treating a cut or wound. It’s also a good idea to be aware of common places for germs to congregate such as public restrooms and playgrounds because the Flu virus can last anywhere from 2-8 hours on a surface. Hand sanitizer should never replace washing your hands and it isn’t effective on hands that are visibly dirty but it is a great way to get rid of pesky germs when soap and running water isn’t immediately available.
Sometimes we still get sick despite our very best efforts but there are still ways to prevent the spread of the Flu from you to other individuals.
If you find yourself miserable with the Flu the best thing you can do for yourself is to visit the doctor to receive treatment so you can feel better sooner but don’t forget that you are now contagious to everyone else. Stay home from work, school or general errands for as long as you are sick and avoid close contact with the people in your house. Always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue after coughing or sneezing and be sure to clean your hands afterwards to prevent the germs from getting all over everything around you. Most importantly, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest because the Flu is nothing to mess around with.
Avoiding the Flu saves you time and money.
For some people, having to stay out of work for a solid week or more can mean having to pay late fees on bills or even having to have a home utility temporarily turned off which makes even larger reactivation fees and it can snowball into a big mess of trying to get back on track. For other people, one person in the house getting sick means that everyone in the house can get sick and when a young child is home sick the parent has to stay home with them regardless of how well the parent feels. Some people are single parents with multiple children and they can’t afford to stay out of work for themselves, much less for each of their children also. No matter how you look at it it’s so much easier to simply take preventative measures than too even risk getting sick.