Avoid the flu...
But If You Get the Flu Anyway
Severe confusion, seizures, loss of consciousness Bleeding, coughing up blood Ear pain Prolonged headaches Wheezing cough Thick, green/rusted-colour mucus Difficulty breathing High fever that extends to four or five days or returns after subsiding
For a fever under 101° F (38.3° C), let it run its course to enhance the immune system. For a higher fever, use aspirin, acetaminophren, or ibuprophen. I really can't tell you what those last two things are, but apparently they'll help calm the fever. Never give children aspirin.
For muscle aches/chills, take aspirin, acetaminophren, or ibuprophen, the holy triad of pain relief.
For dehydration, take aspirin, acetaminophren, or ibuprophen. Psyche! But seriously, drink lots of liquids, and avoid alcohol, which dehydrates and interferes with medication. Adults should drink 8 ounces of water per hour, children should sip drinks every ½ hour.
For congestion, take an over-the-counter decongestant. Use a humidifier, and drink hot soothing teas and chicken soup. Mmm, chicken soup.
For a sore throat, gargle with salt water (½ a tablespoon for 8 ounces of warm water). Drink hot fluids (mmm, chicken soup) or try cool stuff, like popsicles or ice cream. Stock up on Fisherman's Friend or Altoids as well.
Don't smoke. The virus irritates the tissue in the respiratory tract, and smoking irritates it even further. It also slows the immune system.
For vomiting/diarrhea, drink lots of liquids to avoid dehydration. Sports drinks, flat sodas, and flavoured ices replenish electrolytes that you need.
Get some rest. Wait a day after your temperature is normal before going back to work or school. Stressors have a habit of upping a chance of relapse.
Try alternative medicines. Drop by the pharmacy (or better yet, get someone to go for you) and ask your pharmacist about Echinacea, garlic, vitamin C, and zinc to boost your immune system and get some flu relief.
Michelle highly recommends Vicks Vaporub to cure what ails you. Just follow the instructions on the box.
The Flu Shot
If you're anything like me, you enjoy spending an hour or two of your day staring at the wall. You also don't enjoy spending hours at the doctor's office to get a shot that will last you only a couple of months. But to quote Smokey the Bear, "Make your intention, fire prevention." Except, replace "fire" with "flu," and you get the gist.
The shot takes two weeks to have an effect, so that means the earlier the better (which makes it last month, but better late than never). Contrary to popular belief, the influenza virus in the shot is dead, so there's no way you'd contract the flu through the shot. I was very excited to have learned all about the immune system last year, but not unexpectedly, I forgot most of it. Basically, the immune system "remembers" viruses, and since the influenza virus mutates year to year, the shot is a way for the immune system to "remember" this virus and prepare the appropriate antibodies. Hey, I didn't get an A for nothing, and I also never said I was studying for my medical Doctorate.
The virus is grown in eggs and extracted. Anyone with allergies to eggs should consult a doctor.
Who's At Risk
Side Effects of the Flu Shot
- Anyone over 50 years old
- Anyone who has had chronic lung disease or heart problems, including children with asthma
- Anyone with metabolic diseases (such as diabetes mellitus), renal dysfunction, hemoglobinopathies or immunosuppression (HIV).
- Any children/teens receiving long-term aspirin therapy
- Pregnant women in their second/third trimesters
- Anyone who has contact with at-risk people (i.e. hospital workers)
- Anyone in an institutional setting (i.e. dorms, armed services)
- Low fever grade for 8 to 24 hours after shot
- Swollen, red tender area in vaccination spot
- Slight chills or headaches within 24 hours, but symptoms should disappear within a day
From all of us to all of you, here's wishing for a healthy, stress-free winter! ¤ C.Ho.
[ Taking precautions against the flu...Part I of the article. ]