Lindsey Mays – Staff Writer
“Achoo!” A sound well known to all with much anxiety; “Did they sneeze on me? Am I going to catch something from it?” Being sick can happen at any time of the year, but the chances to contract something is more likely in the winter months. The New Year brought the influenza epidemic along with it. 2018 is the most widespread flu season on record with the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths skyrocketing. It is vital to know the symptoms of the flu and the various steps that can be taken in preventing it from happening full circle.
What is the flu you might ask?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness that is caused by influenza viruses. The viruses infect the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It is important to remember the word contagious. It means it spreads among people, and it does so very simply when a person coughs, sneezes or even talks. It is important to understand that flu germs can live on surfaces for one to two days.
Feeling tired or feverish? Throat a little sore or cannot quit coughing in class? It may be a sign that the flu has found you. Symptoms of the flu vary from person to person. Generally, those with the flu, experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Fever or feeling feverish/chills
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Muscle or body aches
It is important to pay attention to messages your body may be trying to send you and making sure to take these symptoms seriously. If treated in a timely manner, most people get better in a few days to less than two weeks. The effects can be much more serious if left untreated and the strand spreading rapidly this year has catastrophic effects.
According to the Washington Post, during the fourth week of January, flu resulted in the deaths of another 16 children, bringing the total pediatric deaths so far this season to at least 53.
Although these numbers are startling, there are many simple measures to help protect yourself from contracting the flu.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick
- Wash hands frequently
- Keep your environment clean
- Drink plenty of water
- Sip tea- the steam stimulates the cilia to move germs more efficiently
- Get a protein fix- keep your immune system up
- Release bad energy- take time for yourself to relax
- Sweat it- hit the gym or get in a sauna
- Catch those Z’s- make sure to get those restful eight hours
- Get a flu shot
Rosemary Gillespie, a senior speech pathology major, is very health conscious and believes the flu shot is a key element to staying healthy.
“I stay healthy by getting enough sleep at night and taking vitamins daily. I plan on getting my flu shot this year because of the severity this strain of the flu seems to have. If I stay healthy, it is easier for me to dedicate my time and energy to things that matter. Plus, my mom told me to.”
Want a flu shot? Do not worry about needing to spend a penny. There are many places that offer free flu shots and the process is simple. The most common are CVS and Walmart. The flu season is slated to last until May, so remember to take care of yourself.