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Influenza, commonly called the “flu”, is a viral infection caused by the influenza virus that attacks the respiratory system. Symptoms of the flu include muscle achiness, soreness, headache, high fever, sore nose or throat, coughing, and being lethargic (among others). Gastric issues may also be associated with the flu such as vomiting, queasiness, or nausea. Often, people are disabled from the flu for several days. It is extremely contagious and can lead to hospitalization or even death.
Especially during the winter months in cold climates, the flu can be a threat to occupational health and safety. Because it is so very contagious, those with the flu should stay home from work to avoid spreading the virus. However, it is in everyone’s best interest to prevent the flu in the first place. Here are some helpful hints for fighting the flu.
First and foremost, get vaccinated! One of the best ways to prevent the flu is by going and getting the flu vaccine. Vaccines protect against the most common types of flu viruses, and are available at the beginning of flu season, which is generally around October. It is especially important for those handling children, the elderly, and those in the healthcare field to get flu vaccines to prevent the spread of the flu among those demographics which are more susceptible to infection.
Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands until you think you’ve washed them too much, and then wash them some more. Your hands touch so many surfaces throughout a day and collect germs with every point of contact. Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently with antibacterial soap helps you as well as those you come in contact with stay clean and healthy.
Avoid Contact With Others
During flu season, try your best to avoid contact with those who are exhibiting symptoms of the flu. Similarly, if you begin to exhibit symptoms, make sure that you keep clear of others so you don’t infect them. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or shirt should you feel the onset of symptoms while at work, and just stay home if you are starting to get sick outside of work.
Avoid Contact with Yourself
Hands off! Keep you hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth if you can help it. Touching your face can lead to the spread of germs and make you sick. Keep your hands away from your face to stay healthy.
Go to the Doctor
Don’t wait until symptoms progress and you become miserable. Go to the doctor at the first sign of the flu and take their recommendations! If the doctor prescribes anti-viral medicine, make sure to actually take it! You’ll thank yourself in the long-run for tackling your flu head-on.
Courtesy of the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/preventing.htm
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