Fighting the Flu
You assume it’s just allergies, but your sneezing and sniffling may be worse than you think. It’s time for your immune system to kick into high gear as it tries to fight the seasonal flu. Here are some tips on how to protect you against the virus this season.
- Awareness. If you feel sick, the flu is always a possibility. Influenza activity usually starts in late fall and
continues through early spring, but the virus usually peaks around February. It is a serious contagious disease. On average, 36,000 people die each year, and 200,000 are hospitalized from flu complications. Children under the age of 5, adults over 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic medical conditions are at high-risk for the flu.
- Prevention. The best protection against contracting the flu is vaccination to kill or weaken the virus so you won’t become infected. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you get vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available, and continue throughout the season. The flu vaccination is available for anyone 6 months of age and older. It is offered in two forms: shot and nasal spray. The 2010-2011 flu vaccine protects against three flu strains, including the H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last year.
- Spreading. Aside from getting the vaccination, you can take daily actions to prevent spreading germs. Easy preventive procedures include covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and washing your hands often with soap and water. Also, you should avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and avoid close contact with sick people. If you are the sick one, limit contact with others. Try to stay home for at least 24 hours after your symptoms go away.
- Symptoms. The most common symptoms of the flu are high fever, runny or stuffy nose, headache, fatigue, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches. Other symptoms like nausea and vomiting can also occur. Keep in mind that you may be infected and contagious one day before you start showing symptoms.
- Recovering. Most people can recover from the flu with time, but your doctor may be able to prescribe some medicine for quicker recovery. Fever reducers and painkillers like Tylenol and ibuprofen are recommended. The most important steps in getting healthy are to drink, eat, and rest properly.
- Drink. When you have a fever, you can easily get dehydrated. Fluids help lower your temperature and ease muscle aches. Water and juice are the best beverages to drink.
- Eat. Even if you don’t have much an appetite, you need to keep a normal eating routine so your body can maintain energy to fight the illness. Soup can help relieve a sore throat. Avoid dairy products because they can make nausea worse.
- Rest. Get enough rest to keep your body strong. Keep your body comfortable and relaxed, because stress and activity may make symptoms worse or last longer. Stay isolated to avoid infecting others.
Contact your local doctor or clinic if you have any concerns. The UNT Health and Wellness Center in Chestnut Hall is providing free flu shots for students and faculty during the 2010 Flu Shot Clinic. Students can get shots for free with student ID, and faculty and staff can receive shots for $7. Flu shots are given on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. No appointment is necessary. For more information, visit healthcenter.unt.edu/home/.