If Summer Be Over Can Sniffles Be Far Away

by DavalosMcCormack on October 3, 2008

You know that as the days get shorter and the Presidential debates get longer that can mean only one thing. Flu season is on the way. The only other thing you need to ask, is are you ready?

Now, I’m not one to get a flu shot. I have a kind of an aversion to taking a treatment for something I don’t have (but yes I do have all my vaccinations, my parents insisted) so when people ask me if I’m getting a flu shot I say no.

This is not because of ignorance on my part. Honest!! I worked for ten years producing health and medical segments on TV and every year we did several stories on flu and flu shots and who should get them. Now I work at a  hospital where they offer flu shots for free and encourage front line staff and everyone else to get them. But there are many things you can do to protect yourself against the flu other than the shot.

First, be healthy. Sounds simplistic I know but a healthy immune system is far better equipped to fight off any infection. So if your immune system is strong you are much less likely to get the flu or a cold.

Second, wash your hands. Again it sounds simple but it is one of the single most effective ways of reducing your chance of infection. Most viruses are passed through coughs and sneezes and secretions, they have to get into you somehow and often the most effective way of doing that is by using you.

And they use you all the time. You shake hands with someone who has the flu, you hold on to a strap on the bus or train that someone with the flu held on to, you use the ATM after someone with flu punched in their code. Each one exposes you to whatever they had on their hands – and if you are unlucky it will be the flu virus – so the next time you move your hands up to touch your nose or mouth or eyes, that virus gets into your body. Next thing you know you are coughing, sweating, your muscles ache, your head is pounding, you can’t move. You have the flu.

The easiest way to avoid that is to wash your hands frequently. Ordinary soap and water is best but carry some alcohol-based rubs with you in case you need to wash your hands on the go and there’s no convenient sink nearby.

Third, keep your distance. Flu is most contagious within three feet of an infected person. Now you can’t maintain a safe distance from everyone for the entire winter – and flu season ranges from Thanksgiving to Easter – so use item number three when you can’t do numbers one and two.

Fourth, if you have the flu, stay home. I know we all love to tough it out and show how brave we are, how strong we are. But really, who are you kidding. You are sick. Stay home. All you are doing by going in to work is delaying your recovery and risking infecting your colleagues. So, unless you hate the folks you work with, stay home, get some rest, drink lots of fluids, watch lots of movies. You’ll feel better and everyone around you will thank you.

Now, studies show the flu shot can reduce your risk of flu by 80 percent. That can be particularly important if you are a senior, or have a chronic illness. Every year the flu sends 200,000 people to the  hospital and claims 36,000 lives.

So, if a flu shot works for you, take it. But don’t ignore the other strategies, they can help you avoid needing the shot in the first place.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: