The Aches, the Chills, the Pail Next to the Couch

Understanding the flu can help you protect yourself and your family

By Brad Galvan, American Red Cross Communications Volunteer

Nothing can take a healthy person (or a family) down quicker than the flu. This year, hospitals have been filling up with patients who are suffering from the symptoms of the flu. The dreaded influenza (flu) bug is described by the Center for Disease Control as a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. It’s primarily spread when people cough, sneeze or talk. We are all at risk, but children and the elderly are impacted the most.

Do your part to remain healthy and to keep others safe

Building Resilient Communities in Colombia January 2014

Jana Sweeny
receives her annual flu shot at a
mobile health brigade in La
Guajira, Colombia         Photo credit: Roberto Brito de la Cuesta/American Red Cross 

 

Physicians recommend the flu shot for everyone over six months old. Ideally, the vaccination is done prior to ‘flu season,’ but it’s never too late. The vaccination is meant to protect you from the common strains of influenza. Although encouraged (and sometimes required by some workplaces, including hospitals), it’s not perfect. So what else can you do?

Debra Fast, DO, an MDVIP-affiliated internist who practices in Wooster, Ohio, says, “Aside from the annual vaccine, the most important way to prevent flu is frequent hand washing with soap and water especially prior to eating and avoidance of hand shaking. Most studies regarding taking vitamins like high dose Vitamin C for prevention of colds and flu show no benefit. Instead, we know that eating well-balanced meals and sleeping seven to eight hours a night is a great way to rejuvenate and boost your immune system.”

You unfortunately caught it – what should you do?

If you begin to feel the symptoms of the flu, it’s important to see a healthcare provider. Some antiviral drugs can help shorten the duration and reduce the severity of the symptoms. You should also do your best to stay away from others, drink plenty of liquids and rest. Once you begin to feel better, replace toothbrushes and use disinfectant sprays on everyday objects such as cell phones, remotes, door knobs, etc., that you come into contact with.

You’ve avoided the flu. Hooray! How can you help those that aren’t so lucky?

This year’s flu has caused an influx of patients to be admitted to hospitals. Those patients can contract additional complications and could need the gift of your blood – consider donating to the American Red Cross. https://www.redcrossblood.org/

 

 

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