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In the United States, cold and flu season typically occurs during fall and winter months. However, influenza viruses circulate year round, peaking between December and February, and lasting well into May. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report millions become sick, hundreds of thousands become hospitalized, and sadly tens of thousands die from this illness each year.
What is Influenza (or seasonal flu)? A viral infection; symptoms are usually worse than a cold (fever, sore throat, cough, congestion, and muscle aches) and last much longer. Symptoms do not include vomiting or diarrhea.
What is the CDC? The CDC is a government agency that utilizes a surveillance system to detect and track influenza-related viruses and their impact throughout the country on an annual basis.
Despite recent headlines speculating the Influenza vaccine is only 10% effective, the CDC recommends it still be used as the primary form of protection. Those who are usually encouraged to receive the vaccination include the following:
• Children (6 months to 4 years)
• Adults aged 50 and older
• Those with pulmonary, cardiovascular, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes)
• Those who are immunosuppressed or pregnant
• Residents of nursing homes
• All healthcare professionals
Of course, always consult your physician before receiving or skipping your flu shot. If you come down with the flu, be sure to avoid infant, elderly, and immunosuppressed individuals for their safety. If you are not categorized in the list above, your immune system should destroy the virus within two weeks. If you are categorized in the list above and become infected, contact your doctor right away in order to prevent a more serious complication.
The severity of each flu season typically varies due to several factors, such as how many people received the vaccination, the characteristics of each virus, the timing of the season, and how well the vaccine is working against the active strains.
Besides receiving the flu shot, practicing cleanliness and good eating habits is key.For example, a simple and repetitive routine of washing your hands can make the biggest difference in battling germs.
When should you wash your hands?
• Before preparing or eating food
• After going to the bathroom
• After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has gone to the bathroom
• Before and after tending to someone who is sick
• After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
• After handling an animal or animal waste
• After handling garbage
• Before and after treating a cut or wound
• When departing public transportation, a restaurant, or other highly populated areas
Remember to use soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not at your disposal, use a hand sanitizer (preferably with a 60% alcohol content).
Most of us go to great lengths at this time of year to heighten our immunity and to decontaminate our homes and workplaces. Lysol continues to be a great ally in this fight, and while Emergen-C and Airborne’s effectiveness are disputed, there are many who swear by their results! If you aren’t a fan of store bought remedies, try increasing your intake of superfoods rich in Zinc and Vitamins A, C, and E. Such as:
• Oranges, Blueberries, Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Spinach, Kale, Broccoli
• Garlic, Ginger
• Dried Beans, Peas, Pumpkin Seeds, Nuts
And just like Mom always told you:
• Get enough sleep
• Drink OJ
• Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze
• Flush public toilets with your foot
• Open public doors with your elbow
• Never drink after anyone
• Don’t go outside with wet hair
• And, finally, always wear a warm coat, hat, and scarf
These tips should help you avoid or at least delay falling sick this season. No one wants to make late night pharmacy runs for Kleenex and cough syrup, so be smart and ward off as many germs as humanly possible.
Do you have any additional tips or home remedies when it comes to avoiding the flu? Share below — we would love to hear what keeps you healthy through winter!
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Author: Orion Fox
Contributions from Liberty Insurance Agency
Additional Resource: CDC.Gov