Fighting Flu the old fashioned way
Novant Health Lexington Primary Care
Tiffany Cox, PA –C
Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that affects millions of people in the United States each year. Although individuals can best protect themselves against influenza by getting vaccinated, practicing good health habits will be more important than ever in helping to fight the flu.
Flu spreads from person to person most easily through coughing and sneezing. In fact, infected respiratory droplets can travel up to three feet through the air. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the influenza virus can also survive on surfaces such as books, doorknobs and computer keyboards for up to eight hours. And adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before experiencing symptoms and up to seven days after getting sick, making it possible for them to pass the flu to others without even knowing it.
But there are ways to avoid getting sick:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick as well.
• If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you have the flu to help prevent others from getting sick.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water to dislodge and remove flu-causing germs. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers will also kill the germs that cause the flu.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then inadvertently touches his or her face.
• Practice health habits. By getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious food, it is possible to stay healthy during the flu season and all year long.
These healthy habits are beneficial no matter what type of illness you may encounter. However, while the flu is highly contagious, it is important to remember that not every cough or sneeze indicates that the flu is on its way.
Unlike colds, which come on slowly and usually result in a sore throat and cough, the flu attacks quickly and causes extreme bodily exhaustion. Here are some common flu symptoms to be on the watch for:
Fever Muscle aches
Headache Loss of appetite
Extreme tiredness Chills
Runny or stuffy nose
Left untreated, the flu can lead to some serious complications, including pneumonia, dehydration and worsening of chronic medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma or diabetes.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor for your flu shot or visit one of the many flu clinics held throughout the community. For more information, please visit nhlexingtoprimarcare.org or noflu.org.