As if shivering all winter and enduring cracked knuckles and runny noses weren’t bad enough, the cold brings one extra special gift with it each year: the flu.
Influenza, or the flu, is a highly contagious illness caused by the influenza virus. This respiratory infection ranges from mild to deadly and is especially common during the cold months when immune systems are weakened.
The flu and the common cold have a few similar symptoms including:
- A cough
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore throat
However, the flu is a little more extreme, rendering many unable to go about their daily activities. A cold is typically milder and happens gradually, while the flu is more abrupt.
Some additional symptoms of influenza may include the following:
- Body aches
- High fatigue
- Vomiting or diarrhea (more common for children)
Flu vaccinations are the first step to avoiding influenza. Not only does this protect you, but those around you as well. Children are at a higher risk of infection due to weaker immune systems and high exposure at school each day, so it’s advised that every healthy child gets a flu shot each year.
Ask ifpeds.com for any questions concerning your child’s vaccinations or health.
2. Stay home if sick
If you are showing signs of the flu, then avoid spreading it to others by staying home from work, school, and errands. Take time off to rest and recover, following the instructions of your doctor.
3. Wash your hands
By washing your hands or using a hand sanitizer, you can kill germs from the virus that you may have come in contact with. Inform your children about the importance of keeping their hands clean at school.
Most public school classrooms also have a supply of hand sanitizer easily accessible.
4. Avoid touching your face
One of the most common causes of infection is through germs that pass from your hands to your eyes, mouth, or nose.
Avoid rubbing your eyes, and wash your hands before eating or after blowing your nose.
5. Practice healthy habits
Strengthen your immune system by getting adequate sleep, staying hydrated, keeping physically active, and eating healthy foods. Vitamin C is vital for a healthy immune system. Some foods that are rich in vitamin C include bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, kale, and pineapple.
Sugary foods and drinks can also be harmful to your immune system by competing with vitamin C for space in the white blood cells. You may have joked about being in a sugar coma after consuming excess amounts of goodies, but your immune system cells experience a similar situation when they’re curbed with sugar.
The flu is a highly contagious and miserable illness to catch. Anyone is susceptible to it, but especially those with weaker immune systems such as small children.
Consider getting flu vaccinations for you and your family, and follow the recommended guidelines to avoid acquiring the virus this winter. If you do happen to get the flu, then stay home to recover quicker and avoid spreading the sickness to others.