The flu is here: not avian, but the plain old common flu. Commonly occurring during the winters, influenza- or flu- is a highly contagious disease. The illness is caused by the influenza virus and attacks the respiratory tract in humans: nose, throat, and lungs. The onset of flu usually occurs during the last week of October and lasts until late April or early May. There have been no reports in the U.S. about the Avian Flu. The Avian Flu does not usually affect humans and there has been no cases found in the U.S.
Influenza is spread person-to-person through the air by coughing, sneezing and direct contact with infected people. According to CDC, the symptoms to look for are: fever, headache, extreme tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
A quick trip to the Center for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov) provides the following information and suggestions.
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each fall.
Adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before getting symptoms and up to seven days after getting sick. That means that you can give someone the flu before you know you’re sick, as well as while you are sick.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something or someone that is contaminated with germs, and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth.
Wash your hands thoroughly before eating or touching your face. About 15-20 seconds of scrubbing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs.
Forget what you learned in kindergarten. Do not share food, drinks, eating utensils, or toothpaste, even with someone who seems healthy.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too.
Stay home when you are sick. If possible, stay home from work, school and errands. You will help prevent others from catching your illness. If you develop flu symptoms and can leave campus to recover at home, please do so!
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Wash your hands afterwards. Waterless handcleaners are useful when you are on-the-go.
Clean your hands. Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs, BUT, the germs are not very harmful until they get into your face area. Keep your hands away from your face.
If you have already developed the flu, here are the things to do to ensure a fast recovery: Get plenty of rest, drink fluids, water and juices, drink hot tea and take an aspirin substitute for muscle aches and fever. If the fever lasts more than three or four days, see a doctor.
There are some other important things to remember when considering the flu. Yogurt is loaded with probiotics, which are microorganisms that settle in your intestines and enhance overall immune function. Yogurt promotes “Good” bacteria in the body and helps destroy bad bacteria. To be effective the yogurt must contain “live organisms,” which can be found on the label.
A recent report in the (International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics) indicates that taking a probiotic supplement along with a multi-vitamin/mineral pill could help reduce the number and severity of flu symptoms.
Bathroom cups brim with icky germs, so stock up on paper cups for rinsing, gargling and swishing liquids to sooth sore throats.
“Germs can thrive on your toothbrush,” says Tom Glass, professor emeritus of oral pathology at the University of Oklahoma Heath Science Center. Using transparent or translucent brush heads seems to resist contamination better than solid ones. Clean your brush by rinsing with mouthwash and letting airdry, or soaking between uses in a solution of one tablespoon bleach and eight oz. water. Get a new brush after you have been ill.
Make sure you take some of these extra precautions and save some of your sick days for spring fever.