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The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

Wellness during flu season

By Shen Gao
Staff Writer

It’s almost that time of year agai: flu season. While it may seem to be a near-impossible task to steer clear from the infectious flu virus, there are definitely ways to prevent its onset and spread.

Commonly referred to as “the flu,” influenza is a contagious illness that is easily spread among people of all ages and backgrounds. It is a respiratory disease for which the symptoms may include fever, headache, diarrhea, sore throat, cough, vomiting, and general weakness.

For the elderly, small children, and people with compromised immune systems, the flu can be deadly. It’s estimated that typically 25,000-50,000 people per year die from it. The chance of getting the flu can be generally cut back by 60 percent by receiving a flu vaccine. The reason that it will not prevent getting the flu 100 percent is that its effectiveness depends on a number of factors.

The flu vaccine is most effective in healthy adults. It is almost guaranteed that for children, the older they are, the more effective the flu vaccine is. For those who are well past middle-age, their immune systems are weaker and therefore the flu vaccine will not work as well. Nevertheless, getting the vaccine may decrease serious side effects even if the person does end up contracting the illness.

For those with compromised immune systems, usually those with chronic disease, the vaccine will not work as well. Vaccines work by giving your immune system a dead or weakened form of the virus so that it will produce antibodies for when it encounters a live one. A person whose immune system does not work as well will not respond as well to the vaccine.

Getting the flu can oftentimes cause more than just general discomfort and misery. It may lead to serious diseases such as pneumonia. In addition, for most people, getting the flu may mean infecting the entire family, missing out on time and money at work, or missing invaluable time in class.

Fortunately, there are some basic actions someone can take in an effort to prevent the flu.

An important first step in trying to avoid the flu is minding where your hands have been. Any surface that has been touched or coughed on by someone who has the flu may transfer germs onto an otherwise healthy person. While it may seem hard to do, avoiding  touching your eyes, mouth and nose is a good way to prevent the spread of germs.

Washing hands before you eat and disinfecting surfaces that may have come into contact with the flu are other ways to keep germs away, as the flu virus may survive on surfaces for up to eight hours. Healthy eating and good sleeping habits are other ways to prevent getting the flu.

If you start developing flu-like symptoms, it is recommended by the CDC that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. When surrounded by people, cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow, and make sure to cover both your nose and your mouth. You should also avoid touching others whenever possible. Any used tissues should be properly discarded as well.

In conclusion, get your flu shots, wash your hands, and be aware of where your hands have been, and try to eat healthily and get some sleep.

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