What you should know about the Flu?
The flu is a viral infection that should not be taken lightly. It is often confused with its counterpart the Common Cold because the symptoms are very similar. Some symptoms of the Flu include stuffy nose, cough, sore throat, congestion, fever, fatigue, body ache, and diarrhea or vomiting. These symptoms however, do not solely belong to the Flu. These symptoms are also regular signs of the common cold and other respiratory illnesses. One stark difference between the Common Cold and the Flu is in longevity. Cases of the Common Cold are usually mild and can be cured within a week. On the other hand, cases of the flu can range from minor to life-threatening. A severe case of the flu can result in pneumonia.
Because the symptoms of respiratory illness are similar, it is difficult to determine what illness you suffer from on your own. A healthcare provider should be consulted in the event you experience any of these symptoms. An examination can be performed by a Physician which can determine exactly what illness you have developed.
How is the flu spread?
The flu is a highly infectious virus that can be spread in several different ways:
Inhaling infected air. The air can become infected when a person who has the illness coughs or sneezes. For this reason, it is suggested that you always cover your mouth or nose when coughing or sneezing. Be sure to wash your hands immediately after.
Coming in direct contact with an infected person's secretion. This can occur by kissing, sharing utensils, or drinks with an infected person.
The virus is also transferrable through absorbency. The virus can be transferred to your hands when you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus is then absorbed into your hands and in turn, touching commonly used surfaces such as door handles, keyboards, and phones spreads the virus to the surfaces and potentially to others.
How do I prevent the Flu?
Although there is no certainty that a person will be able to always prevent catching the flu, there are methods that can indeed keep it away. The best way to protect yourself and others is to get a flu vaccination. The flu vaccine is available in two forms – the flu shot and the nasal spray. The flu shot is the most common method of administering the vaccine. The nasal spray is available for healthy persons * between the ages of 2-49 who are not pregnant. The flu vaccination is to be taken annually when flu season begins around September.
Because the Flu has the potential of being fatal, it is recommended that people with chronic diseases such as heart disease or asthma, young children, and senior citizens get the vaccine. For information on where you can get your flu vaccination, contact your healthcare provider or local pharmacy. Be sure to consult with your doctor or a healthcare professional to confirm if a flu vaccination is right for you.
Other prevention strategies include:
-Disinfecting the home by keeping the floors, garbage, and bathroom clean.
-Sanitizing common use areas like the kitchen and living room along with door handles, keyboards, remote controls, and light switches.
-Keep your hands clean at all times, especially after blowing your nose or coughing. If not able to wash your hands at a sink, keep a bottle of alcohol based anti-bacterial hand gel or sanitizing wipes nearby.
-Be sure to keep up with a nutritious diet. Eat many fruits and vegetables to ensure your body has the necessary vitamins and nutrients to combat potential virus.
-Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Try to avoid dairy products and caffeine drinks such as coffee and soda.
– Get plenty of rest and exercise.
The above listed tips can help you keep up your body's immune system which is essential to prevention of the flu and other viral illnesses.
Keep in mind that there is no cure for the flu. It is best to protect yourself in advance if you begin to feel symptoms of the flu or if you are in a constant environment where others already have the virus. Some over the counter medications are available in your local pharmacy to combat minor symptoms such as cough, sore throat, or stuffy nose.
In the event that any of these symptoms worsen or if just to be on the safe side, contact your physician or a local health care provider immediately.
(Please note that healthy persons are considered those who are not predisposed to any chronic health conditions which will increase their changes of contracting the flu virus.