It's the time of year that the flu starts to emerge from hiberation and slowly take over in schools, shopping malls, and the workplace. This might not sound like a big deal—you might miss a few days at work or your kids might miss some school—but while most people only come down with a mild illness, some people may develop complications like pneumonia and bronchitis, which could require hospitalization and even result in death. People at high risk (children younger than 5, adults older than 65, pregnant women, and those with chronic health problems) are particularly susceptible.
Even if you don't fall in any of these categories, you probably know someone who does, and it's part of your own responsibility to keep yourself healthy so that you don't spread the flu to the people you love!
Studies from the past 34 years show that the flu peaks from December to March, so there is still time to start defending yourself before it's too late. In order to keep you and your family healthy this winter, and hopefully stifen the spread of germs, we're going over some health tips today—most of them being preventative actions that we all should really follow every day.
Everyday Preventative Health Tips
Although you should be particularly diligent during the flu season, these are tips for staying healthy all year round, as well as common courtesy rules to ensure that if you do get sick, you can help stop it from spreading around.
- Wash your hands regularly! Using soap, lather every part of your hands, including the back and between your fingers, washing for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible, unless you've just cleaned your hands. If you touch your nose or mouth, wash your hands as soon as is convenient.
- Try to limit your contact with anyone known to be or is likely to be sick.
- Likewise, if you are sick, try to limit your contact with others as much as possible.
- Whether or not you are sick, try to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough. If you use a tissue, throw it away immediately (or, at worse, keep it in your pocket so that you don't spread the germs to places that people may touch). If you don't have a tissue, use the inside of your upper arm to cover up—not your hands or lower arm.
Consider the Flu Vaccine
Despite being such a mild condition in most cases, the flu survives because it is constantly evolving each year. Flu vaccines are developed in preparation of that year's flu, but it's always possible that the flu has changed too significantly for the vaccine to take much effect. Thus, it's difficult to measure the full effectiveness of vaccines.
However, studies conducted by the CDC show that flu vaccines reduce the risk of illness by 50-60% amongst the overall population during the winter months. If you have a family member that is considered high risk, the flu vaccine for the whole family can help protect the vulnerable member(s).
Further, studies show that the flu vaccination also protects babies during and after pregnancy, for up to four months after birth. These babies were about 33% less likely to get sick with the flu.
For more information about the Flu
For more information on the flu, flu vaccine, prevention, treatment, and studies, try the official CDC's website.