It is true the contagious illnesses are active year-round. However, we are most likely to become ill from them during colder seasons when we spend more time indoors with other people. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the spread of infections and minimize symptoms.
Some viruses and illness-causing germs are spread by droplets – such as when someone coughs or sneezes. Other times, touching a contaminated surface or item and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes can spread infection. Examples of contaminated surfaces may include restaurant menus, doorknobs, keyboards, ink pens, handrails, and any place frequently touched by hands.
Just how common is the flu? During the 2014 to 2015 season, worldwide there were about 40 million flu associated illnesses, approximately 19 million flu-associated medical visits, and an estimated 970,000 flu associated hospitalizations. This was the highest estimate for any single flu season (FDA, 2016).
While there is no quick cure for colds or the flu, certainly the flu (sometimes call Influenza) vaccination can reduce severity or prevent the flu illness. It is ideal to get this vaccination in October of each year. Flu vaccination is also very important for adults with chronic illness, over the age of 65, or for those who care for these people.
In addition to getting your flu shot here are some things you can do to lessen your chance of becoming sick:
- The single most effective thing you can do is probably the easiest! Simply wash your hands with soap and water often! Wash you hands with soap for about 20 seconds before rinsing them under running water. Keep unclean hands away from your nose, mouth, and eyes. Hand sanitizers are another great way to keep your hands clean.
- Eat a nutritional diet. Also, stay well hydrated.
- Get enough sleep.
- Exercise routinely.
- Keep stress in check. (Exercise is a great way to relieve stress.)
- Don’t use tobacco products. People who use tobacco products are more prone to respiratory illnesses and complications.
If you do get sick with a cold or flu, try to limit your time among other people. Remember, these illnesses are very contagious and may cause very serious health problems for some people. Use tissues to cover your mouth and nose if you sneeze or cough. Wash your hands often and certainly, see your doctor if symptoms become serious or prolonged.
Also talk with your doctor about prescription and over the counter remedies available to relieve or shorten symptoms of cold or flu – and also inquire about getting a pneumococcal vaccination (and other adult immunizations) as well. House Spouse Healthcare Tip: Flu shots change every year based the major flu strains that are anticipated. So it is important to get the shot every Fall.
Learn more about it:
Get Set for a Healthy Winter Season. (January 2, 2016). FDA.gov. Retrieved from http://news.hamlethub.com/ryebrook/publicsafety/3200-get-set-for-a-healthy-winter-season-1452043911
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