It's flu season! Much worse than just a cold, the flu - or influenza - can make you very sick, and in some people it can be deadly. What's the best way to beat the flu this year? Here's the magic formula:
1. - Wash your hands
2. - Get your flu shot
That's all there is to it. Nothing is 100% guaranteed to prevent the flu, but if you are conscientious about washing your hands, and if you get your flu shot you've taken the two most important steps to being flu-free. Let's take a look at why.
Wash Your Hands.
Think about all of the things you touch in a day: door handles, elevator buttons, water faucets, shopping carts, the pens they chain down in the bank. Now think about the number of people who have touched them before you. Ugh...that's a lot of germs. And then you rub your eyes, touch your nose, lick something off your finger, and now those germs are in you. Washing your hands at key times will help to keep the germs at bay. Always wash your hands
Before you eat
After taking out the garbage or cleaning up after a pet
Before and during food preparation or serving
Before and after caring for someone else
Before and after you use an item like a shopping cart or a public restroom
If your hands are not visibly dirty, and running water and soap are not available, hand-sanitizers are a good alternative. Use about a teaspoon and rub your hands together until they are completely dry. If you have running water and soap, however, this is the best method for clean hands. It really doesn't matter if the water is hot or cold, either works. Suds up and rub your hands together long enough to sing Happy Birthday through twice. Then rinse and dry with a paper towel.
Get Your Flu Shot.
No, flu shots are not 100% effective. We hear that on the news every year. They do, however, protect us from the major strains of flu the Centers for Disease Control have identified. Everyone older than 6 months should get a flu shot, especially those older than 65, those with conditions that compromise their immune system (like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis), and caregivers of any age group.
Flu shots DO NOT give you the flu. They can't; the virus inside them is not a live virus. It is true that you can feel a bit achey and have a sore arm after getting a shot, but that goes away after a day or so. Remember, it takes about two weeks for the flu shot to become fully effective.
It also helps to eat a well-balanced diet, get some exercise and avoid smoking to avoid the flu. Layering a healthy lifestyle with frequent hand-washing and a flu shot gives you your best chance to avoid illness this season!