Monday, November 4, 2013

Only You Can Stop the Flu

By Kelly Norton, Volunteer Contributor 

Brrr - it's starting to get cold outside and, unfortunately, that also means it's also the start of flu season. Getting sick is no fun so here are some facts about the flu, tips to stay healthy, and, if you do get sick, some advice on how to get better faster:

What is the flu?
The flu is a contagious sickness caused by influenza viruses that infect your nose, throat, and lungs. The seriousness of the flu varies.

How can I prevent the flu?
  • Get a vaccine. The most recommended way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. While flu outbreaks start as early as October, the majority of people come down with the illness around January. Therefore, it's best to be vaccinated early. Flu vaccines allow for antibodies to develop in your body that protect against infection in the future. It takes about two weeks for your body to develop these antibodies. 
  • Drink water and eat fruits & veggies. Staying hydrated and eating healthy foods helps to boost your immune system so that your body can fight off sickness better.
  • Get plenty of sleep but also exercise & stay active. Regular exercise also helps boost your immune system. Giving your body the proper rest afterwards is important, too. Most doctors recommend 7-8 hours of sleep for adults and more for children.
  • Wash your hands with hot water, cover your nose & mouth, & avoid touching your face. These are all small things that help prevent germs from spreading. Remember to wash your hands multiples times a day (or have some antibacterial gel handy). It's especially needed after going on pubic transportation like the Metro! 

What if I get sick?
  • Do not go to work or out to play. Rest and take care of yourself if you're feeling sick or come down with the flu! The only way to get better is to give your body a break and allow it to recover. This way you're also not spreading germs to others!
  • Talk to a doctor. If you have any concerns or are feeling sick, see or call your doctor. 
Where can I learn more?
Read more Red Cross tips about flu symptoms and treatment. You can also check out the Center for Disease Control's key facts about the flu.

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