Flu Prevention

By Kristi Ries

Missed the flu shot this year? I sure did. This was more the cause of complacency mixed with indifference on my part than a strong dislike of vaccines. According to the CDC, somewhere between 5% and 20% of the entire population will come down with the flu each year. That totals more than 200,000 people with the influenza virus.

Think about it: two entire Beaver Stadiums (or Big Houses or Horseshoes, if you please) packed with hacking coughs, sniffles, sneezes and fevers. Now picture those folks distributed throughout the country, spreading their germs (sometimes unknowingly) to others in public places. Flu season in the US peaks during the dark, winter months – November through March – and 36,000 people annually do not survive it. It’s out there, and chances are, if you haven’t been already you will be exposed to the virus soon.

This is especially a concern if your occupation involves extensive interaction with other people. It puts you and the people you see every day at a greater risk of passing the virus. If you work in a high traffic area, such as in the hospitality, services or retail industries, it behooves you to use hand sanitizer frequently. Simply having a Purell pump on your desk could cut your risk significantly.

What if you start to feel as if you’re coming down with something? That creeping fatigue or chills begin to settle in, and the next thing you know, you’re reaching for your Snuggie and a hot cup of tea. This, too, will pass, but keep in mind that you are contagious in the meantime.

Know when to stay home. How do you determine if you have a cold or the flu? Generally speaking, colds are milder and typically involve respiratory issues rather than fever. If you must care for young children or elderly family members, you might consider wearing a Disposable Face Mask. These are inexpensive and will shield those most vulnerable from your contagions.

Lastly, know when to see a doctor. If symptoms persist for more than a week, or become extremely severe (despite the use of over-the-counter medication), make an appointment with your physician immediately.

Swine Flu and Alcohol

by Kathy McCarthy

With flu season fast upon us, discussion is already starting about how we can protect ourselves from this annoying disease. Actually,with the advent of swine flu,  it’s now more than just an annoying disease. Swine flu seems to have a penchant for the young and healthy, and its symptoms can include anything from cold like symptoms to flu like symptoms to death. So, what was once just an annoying illness, has taken a very serious turn.

H1N1Here are 4 tips to help you stay healthy throughout the flu season.

  1. Most infections spread through your eyes, nose and mouth. So there are several important things you can do to mitigate the spread of infection. First and foremost, wash your hands with soap and water. Keep your hands away from your face, and cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. If you’re unable to wash your hands, sanitizing products like Purell can work well as a substitute until you have access to soap and water.
  2. The best way to wash your hands is to use soap and water. Wash for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday) and dry with a clean towel or air dry.
  3. If you have to use a hand-sanitizing product, apply it generously to your hands and rub them together until they’re dry. These products are a special blend of alcohol and moisturizers. The alcohol breaks down the germs’ cell walls and kills them, and the moisturizers combat the drying effect of the alcohol.
  4. Alcohol is one of the safest antiseptics used today, and when it is applied to the skin, it kills the germs and evaporates in seconds. There is no evidence that alcohol leads to resistant bacteria, so these alcohol-based products should work effectively every time that they are used.