The flu this year is extremely infectious and sneaky. Folks are contagious a full day before they show any symptoms and can remain contagious for over a week after the symptoms improve. So, flu is spreading rapidly everywhere groups of people congregate. The incubation period for coming down with the flu after exposure is usually one to four days.
The strains of flu not covered by this year's flu vaccine are especially severe. Reports are coming in from every state that people across every age group from pediatric patients to senior adults are dying from flu related complications.
What to do if you get the flu:
- Don't discount how serious this illness is. Take care of yourself.
- Drink lots of water. It is the best way to keep from getting dehydrated. You can drink other beverages too but tea and soft drinks will not hydrate as well as water and if you drink something that contains caffeine, it decreases the ability of your body to absorb liquid. If hot tea or cold ginger ale make you feel better, by all means have some. Just be sure to drink plenty of water too.
- Eat whatever you can tolerate to stay nourished. Your immune system needs liquid and food to function at optimum capacity for kicking out the flu germs. If you are experiencing intestinal symptoms like nausea and diarrhea, start with easily digestible foods like applesauce, bananas, toast, and rice. Add other foods as you begin to feel better.
- Tylenol (acetaminophen) and Advil (ibuprofen) may help control aches and fever but there is no cure for the flu. Take them only in the recommended amounts listed on the container. And call your physician's office to verify they are appropriate for you considering any chronic illnesses you may have and the routine medicines you take.
- Stay at home and rest until you recover.
- Isolate yourself from the rest of your family, as much as possible, to keep from spreading the germs to them.
How to prevent the flu from spreading:
- If you have the flu, do not go to work, school, church, sports events, or other places that crowds meet until your symptoms are completely gone. Even after your fever resolves, if you still have other symptoms like cough, runny nose, and sore throat, you are likely still contagious.
- Practice correct coughing and sneezing technique. Do not cover your mouth with your hand. Instead, cough or sneeze into your bent arm at the elbow. If you do sneeze or cough into a tissue or your hands, wash your hands immediately and clean everything you touch with vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Here's how to make it www.kathyknorman.com/blog/category/homemade-cleaners
- Do not go to the doctor's office for routine checkups during flu season.
- Do not visit hospital emergency rooms unless you have life-threatening symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, uncontrolled hemorrhaging, or a head injury.
- Do not visit friends who are hospitalized with something other than the flu because you will pass by lots of rooms filled with patients who do have it.
- Wear a mask and wash your hands frequently if you are the caregiver for someone who has the flu.
- Get a flu shot every year. The vaccine manufacturing process starts the year before each flu season so educated guesswork is required based on the patterns of previous years. Some years the vaccine will be right on the mark and prevent you from getting that year's strain of flu. Other years, like this season, an unexpected strain emerges that the shot doesn't adequately cover, but the flu shot can still provide complete protection from some strains and minimize the symptoms from others. I have taken a flu shot every year since they have been available and this is the first year I have caught the flu.
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