At Oregon Health DPC, we have seen a lot of cases of the flu lately. Sometimes it seems like the cold and flu seasons just keep getting worse. Despite the best efforts of the healthcare industry, germs are learning how to defend themselves against our attacks. Since influenza is a virus, there’s not a lot we can do to get rid of it once you are sick. Rest, fluids, and good nutrition go a long way toward easing the symptoms, and staying home for a few days will help minimize the spread to the public. However, if you do find yourself with symptoms of the flu; fever, cough, body aches, give us a call. There is a medication that if taken within the first 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, that may shorten the duration and lessen your symptoms.
The best way to stay healthy during the cold and flu season is to take certain precautions. Focus on prevention by following some of the tips listed below.
Protect Your Hands
Wash your hands – It is important to remember to wash your hands frequently: after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, being with sick people, and especially before you eat. Thoroughly washing with warm water and soap will cleanse any germs from your hands, reducing your exposure and preventing their spread. Make sure to scrub hands together with soap for at least 20 seconds prior to rinsing with clean running water.
Use tissues – It’s extremely important to cover your coughs and sneezes! Every time you cough or sneeze, whether it is into your hands or into the air, you’re spreading the germs that made you sick. Toss used tissues in the trash and wash your hands immediately. If you do not have a tissue available, bend your arm at the elbow and cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm.
Don’t touch! – Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes as much as possible. Your skin makes a good barrier for germs you may pick up throughout your day. However, germs can stay on your hands for quite a while and once you touch your face, it’s an easy entrance to your body. If you touch your face, it becomes much more likely that you will be infected with the cold or flu virus (or bacterial infection!) from the germs someone left behind.
Don’t share – During the cold and flu season, it’s best to have your own water bottle, pens, phone, and utensils. Someone can be infected with a virus or bacteria and not be showing any signs of illness.
Protect Your Body
Get the flu shot – Experts agree that the best way to combat the flu this season is through preventive measures. Each season, the vaccine is created to be the most effective against the most likely strains of influenza to hit this year. Flu infections are still rising across the country and the CDC states it is not too late to get your flu shot!
Take care of yourself – If you are not getting enough sleep, you will be more susceptible to getting sick. Your immune system can do a great job of keeping you healthy, but if you are run down or worn out, your immune system is too. If you feel like you’re “coming down with something”, get some rest and try a creative way to let go of any stress you are feeling.
Eat well and stay moving – Making healthy choices will allow your body to naturally defend itself from any germs you are exposed to. Choose quality meals and get yourself moving every day. If you do feel sick, remember to rest!
Keep it to yourself – Staying home from work or school doesn’t make you a wimp, it makes you smart! You need rest to recover from illness, and you should do your best to avoid sharing your illness with others.
Dr. Mathai and Jess at Oregon Health DPC want to help you make it through the flu season as healthy as possible! Be vigilant about avoiding germs, take the very best care of yourself, and let us know if you have any questions about how to kick the flu to the curb.