Protect Yourself from the Flu

It's flu season again but this time we have two flu types to worry about.  Each fall and winter we can expect a seasonal flu (influenza) but this year there is a new variety, H1N1 influenza, commonly called Swine Flu

But don't panic, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of  getting either seasonal or H1N1 flu or spreading it to others.

Common Flu Facts

  • All flu's are due to a virus and the type of virus determines whether it is seasonal or H1N1 flu.
  • People catch the flu when the virus enters their body through breathing in the virus when they are close to or shake hands with someone who is coughing or sneezing or when they touch something that is contaminated with the virus (an object such as a table top, a counter, a telephone, a computer keyboard or even money) and then touch their own face, nose, mouth, or eyes.
    • Flu symptoms include:
    • Headache
    • High fever (102 degrees F or more) and chills
    • Dry cough
    • Body aches 
    • Severe fatigue
    • Possible nausea, vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Seasonal flu has traditionally been most dangerous to the elderly and to people with serious medical conditions such as heart or lung diseases, diabetes, cancer, or compromised immune systems.
  • H1N1 flu has proved to most seriously affect children, teenagers and young adults under 25 years old, pregnant women, as well as persons with serious medical conditions.
  • Each year many people are hospitalized or even die as a result of complications of the flu but most people are able to recover from the flu by resting,  taking fluids, and using fever reducing medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or aspirin.  
  • Call your doctor for advise on treating the flu.  If you become very sick you may need to take an anti-viral medication.  If you have a sick child avoid giving them aspirin and contact a pediatrician for advise on treatment.
  • Not all viruses cause the flu.  Some cause  common colds.  If you have no fever or a low fever (100 degrees or less), sneezing, stuffy/runny nose, and a hacking productive cough (lots of mucus) you probably have a cold, not the flu.

What Can You Do to Prevent  Getting or Spreading the Flu

  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.  It is recommended that that you cough into your sleeve rather than your hands.  If you do cough into your hand try to wash with soap and water or hand sanitizer as soon as possible.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face, mouth, nose, or eyes.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Obtain a vaccination for both seasonal and H1N1 flu.  You need to have both to prevent getting the flu this year.  If you are under 25 you may be eligible for a nasal spray vaccine.  Other people will need to get a shot (injection).  The flu shot is safe for most people and Will Not Cause You To Get The Flu!  Tell your doctor or nurse if you are currently feeling sick or if you are allergic to eggs as you should not get the flu vaccine.