Staying Healthy This Flu Season
By Kennika Freeman
Flu season is in full swing, but it's not too late to protect yourself and your children by getting a flu vaccination and practicing common-sense germ prevention.
Influenza, commonly known as "the flu," is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. The flu is often confused with the common cold, but flu symptoms tend to develop quickly and are usually more severe than the typical sneezing and congestion of a cold.
The flu shot is basically a prediction of what several flu strains are going to be the most virulent and pathogenic the next year. Flu shot engineers take into consideration the way viruses change as they shift from continent to continent and spread around the world.
Engineers grow the virus, and then inactivate it before administering it to patients so it cannot infect people. Your body recognizes the virus and remembers it so when you encounter it again, your body immediately releases white blood cells to kick some butt! Flu shots do work and should definitely be encouraged.
Viruses mutate as they travel the globe. This is where travelers come into the equation of global disease spread. Influenza is pandemic stuff. Think epidemics that kill millions. The common cold just gives you a runny nose, a 2-3 day fever, and a cough.
The flu kills millions in outbreaks. The early 1900s saw a global pandemic killing millions. This is the fear with the bird flu according to researchers. Hence the emphasis on travelers getting the flu shot.
This dreaded season is the worst for children, pregnant women and the elderly. Keep yourself and your family healthy this flu season with these wonderful tips.
•1. Flu Shot! First off, everyone needs to get the flu shot. If you intend to be around any human this winter, then you need to get this important shot.
•2. New Products. Now in 2007/2008 there are new over the counter medications and food that you can take to help boost your immune system to insure you stay your healthiest. Try these products this flu season and see how well they work. You can also rely on ole' trusty, fresh squeezed orange juice and vitamins!
•3. Fruits and vegetables. Remember to eat the recommended 5-9 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Apples have anti-viral properties and are great preventive remedy against flu.
•4. Room ventilation. Proper ventilation significantly reduces the concentration of pathogenic bacteria and viruses in the air. Opening windows is an easy and extremely effective natural ventilation technique.
•5. Keep the distance. To reduce your chances of infection develop the habit of keeping a distance (about six feet), if possible, between yourself and others during flu epidemic.
•6. Hand washing. Human influenza viruses can survive on surfaces up to 48 hours. Washing your hands often for 15-20 seconds with warm water and soap will help protect you from germs.
•7. Garlic. Garlic is one of the best natural remedies for flu prevention. It kills viruses responsible for colds and the flu; you can simply chew chive garlic and you even don't need to swallow it.
•8. Stop Smoking. This is the hardest tip to implement, but if you are a smoker and want to protect yourself from the flu - break off your habit. Commonplace advice you hear many times, isn't it? However, an increase in influenza infections among smokers compared to nonsmokers is proven by research studies.
Following the advice above will not completely eliminate the risk of illness, but it will certainly reduce your risks and, if you do get sick reduce the threat you pose to others. Certainly a healthy diet and lifestyle can help, as can a round of flu shots, but neither of those is very useful if you don't minimize your exposure to the germs that cause illness. Unfortunately, the trend over the last few years has been to put our trust in virtually useless anti-bacterial soaps, leading us down the wrong path entirely. Good hand-washing habits, being careful about where you put your hands in the first place and common courtesy are far more effective.