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12 Things You Need To Know About This Upcoming Flu Season
There is no denying it. Flu season is upon us once again. It can start as early as October and keep going with an encore performance right through May. The 2013-2014 flu season was pretty typical as there was very little activity through mid-November, but by the end of December it was in full swing. Experts estimate that between five and 25 percent of the American population will come down with the flu every year. About 200,000 people become sick enough that they need to be hospitalized. Although many people downplay the flu as something minor, it isn’t always. Literally thousands of people die from it each year. Of course those most at risk are the very young (five and under) and the very old (65 and older), those with health problems such as heart disease or asthma, and pregnant women. The good news is that there are things you can do to protect yourself before you catch the flu; ways to tell if you have the flu, a cold, or something else; and what to do if you should come down sick. Keep reading for the top 12 things you will need to know about this upcoming flu season.
1. Wash Your Hands
Of course, this is one of the most obvious ways to stop catching the flu, but it bears repeating. This is especially true if you use any type of public building, restroom, transportation, or service. Let’s be honest, unless you live on a farm, you probably come into contact with some type of publically used device or surface. Things such as stairway or escalator railings, ATM pads, bank counter tops, subway seats, straps, and railings, not to mention bathroom doors and trashcans, are all great places to pass on or pick up viruses. This is why it is vital that you wash your hands, working up a lather for a full 20 seconds. Anything less than 20 seconds, and those little germs can still continue to have a party on your hands. Wet your hands and use enough soap to work up a good lather. Count to twenty or sing the happy birthday song twice, then rinse. Use an air dryer or paper towels. Never use a shared hand towel to dry, as you can pick up the germs from there once again. If there are no paper towels, shake your hands dry.
2. Stop Touching Your Face
This is easier said than done! The quickest way for the flu to gain access to your body is after you touch an infected surface or person and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. The CDC says that the average person touches their face between 15 and 50 times an hour. It’s so automatic that when we have an itchy nose, we just scratch it without thinking. Now is the time to try to stop that habit! Try keeping tissues in your purse or on your desk. (Anti-viral tissues are great for this!) Next time you feel that itch on your nose, scratch it through or with the tissue. Keep long hair tied back so that it won’t fall in your face, and you won’t be tempted to pull it out of your eyes. This can be a really difficult habit to break, but if you really want to reduce your chances of catching the flu, or any type of bug, this is a habit you should work at stopping.
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