Don’t get me sick

Don't get sick

The cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. Colds are generally milder – you’ll feel annoyed but not as if you want to die. The signature symptom of a cold is a runny nose. The flu will have you burning with fever, aching all over, extremely tired and coughing intensely. The flu can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia.
The cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. Colds are generally milder – you’ll feel annoyed but not as if you want to die. The signature symptom of a cold is a runny nose. The flu will have you burning with fever, aching all over, extremely tired and coughing intensely. The flu can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia.

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell a cold from a flu based on symptoms alone. A doctor can test to see whether you have the flu in the first few days of the illness.

How do you treat cold and flu? The drill is pretty much the same: Drink plenty of liquids, get lots of rest, avoid using alcohol or tobacco, and treat the symptoms. Antibiotics won’t cure the flu, but some over-the-counter medications may help treat flu symptoms, including acetaminophen for children and acetaminophen or aspirin for adults, decongestants and cough suppressants. A humidifier may also help.

Hand washing is the single best way to keep germs at bay

To do it right:

– Wet your hands with warm water and lather up.

– Scrub all surfaces, rubbing vigorously. Clean under your fingernails. (Keep them trimmed.)

– Continue to scrub for at least 15 seconds – long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday song.”

– Rinse and dry.

When to wash? When you come in from outside, before meals, after handling food, after using the restroom.

– If someone in your house is sick, make sure to clean the following: light switches, phones, remote control, microwave handle, refrigerator handle, kitchen counters, faucet handles, pretty much everything in the bathroom. Change bedding daily when someone is sick.

– Hand wipes and sanitizers are a good substitute if soap and water are not available.

What is avian influenza (bird flu)?

Avian influenza is caused by a virus naturally occurring in birds. Wild birds have natural defenses against this virus, but domestic birds, including chickens and turkeys, can get very sick.

Usually, this virus doesn’t infect humans, but several people have been infected with avian flu since 1997. The spread to humans has been rare, but people have little or no natural immune protection against the disease, so it could be dangerous.

Pandemic

A pandemic is a worldwide outbreak of a disease caused by a virus that spreads easily from person to person. Pandemics are different from influenza epidemics, or seasonal outbreaks, because they are either a type of virus that has never circulated before or a virus that hasn’t circulated in a long time. The last serious pandemic was in 1957. A Spanish flu epidemic that started in 1918 killed 20 million to 40 million people worldwide. Within just two years, 20 percent to 40 percent of the world’s population had fallen ill from the virus.

Germs at work

You can pass on the flu before you know you have it. You can be contagious one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick.

The common cold is the illness that causes people to miss school and work most often. Kids average six to 10 colds a year. Adults average two to four. More than 200 viruses cause cold symptoms.

It’s estimated that people coming to work when they are sick costs companies $150 billion a year.

Some germs can live for as long as two hours on doorknobs, desks, tables and other hard surfaces. So it’s best to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unclean hands.

Forget what your mother told you. Don’t cough into your hands. Cough into your sleeve – but only if you don’t have a tissue.

Your desk has more germs per square inch than a toilet seat. Disinfect and sanitize on a regular basis – especially if you eat frequently at your desk.

Germs at school

With about one-fifth of the U.S. population attending or working in schools, it’s important to stop the spread of germs. To keep kids healthy, make sure they get plenty of sleep and exercise, eat properly and drink water.

The flu is most contagious and severe during the first day of the illness. Keep kids home until the symptoms improve and no fever has been detected for 24 hours.

Schools should make tissues available in classrooms and on buses, and encourage students to use them when sneezing or blowing their nose. Make sure kids wash their hands or use hand sanitizer after using a tissue.

Stay home

OK, you know who you are. You probably brag about how you’ve never missed a day of work because you think using what could be vacation days when you’re sick is for suckers.

Well, you make me sick.

Seriously.

When you bring your snotty nose and hacking cough to work – three-quarters of all workers do – you share your misery with those around you. And, Karma being what it is, the germs could pass through the workplace and land squarely back on you.

So here are some things to consider.

If you are not a hormonal woman of a certain age and your clothes are drenched in sweat, you have a fever. You are contagious. Stay home!

Sniffly? Achy? Tired? You are coming down with something and could pass it along to others. In this instance, it isn’t nice to share. Stay home!

Throat hurt? Take a good look at yourself. If you have white patches on your tonsils, you might have strep. You need to go to the doctor and then, yep, stay home.

Preventing the flu

A flu vaccination – either from a shot or a nasal spray – is the best way to prevent the illness. The best time to get the vaccination is in October or November, but getting the shot in December or after can still help since most flu activity occurs in January and can last until May.

People who should get vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:

– Children between 6 months and 5 years old

– Pregnant women

– People 50 and older

– People with certain chronic medical conditions

– People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

– People who live with those at high risk for complications from the flu

– Caregivers of children less than 6 months old

– Health care workers

Those who should not get vaccinated include:

– People with a severe allergy to chicken eggs

– People who have had a severe reaction to the flu vaccination in the past

– Children younger than 6 months old

– If you have an illness with a fever, you should wait to get vaccinated until your symptoms go away. Consult your doctor if you have any questions about getting a flu vaccine.

 

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