If the lines at urgent care, doctors’ offices, and pharmacies are any indication, the flu virus is thriving in Siouxland. An airborne virus that causes fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, chills, and body aches, the flu is very common in the winter months, when people are hunkered indoors, mingling in enclosed public spaces, and touching common surfaces.
If you are over the age of 65, flu prevention is even more important. Since our immune systems weaken as we age, we are increasingly more susceptible to viruses and illnesses, and we also are more prone to complications in our older years. Make no mistake, however, getting the flu at any age isn’t fun.
There are two big ways you can prevent being hit with this unwelcome virus.
- Get a flu vaccine. According to flu.gov, you are 60% less likely to need treatment for the flu if you get a flu vaccine. Since it takes about two weeks after the shot for the body to create sufficient antibodies, it’s best to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
- Wash your hands frequently. Since the flu virus is airborne, all it needs to do is come in contact with the mucous membranes in your eyes, mouth, and nose to enter your body and start making you feel miserable. The easiest way to prevent this contact is to avoid touching your face and keep your hands as clean as possible.
If, despite your best efforts, you end up getting the flu anyway, stay home. It’s your best bet to limit the spread of the virus, allow yourself plenty of rest, and stay comfortable.
Here are a few things you can do to minimize flu complications.
- Avoiding unnecessary stressors allows the body to focus on getting well.
- Drink lots of clear fluids. Broth, water, and sports drinks will help keep you hydrated, particularly if you have a fever or if you are losing a lot of moisture through mouth breathing.
- Cool a fever with cold, damp washcloths on your forehead, arms, and legs.
- If congestion has you losing sleep, try using saline nasal sprays or increasing the ambient humidity in your bedroom with a humidifier or by hanging wet clothes in doorways.
- Gargle a salt-water solution made with 1-2 teaspoons of salt to one cup of warm water.
Be well and get well from all of us at Oakleaf!
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