Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Flu Season Is Still Upon Us!

Here we are on February 14th, the season of romance, and many are still suffering from symptoms related to the flu! It seems that this flu season came in fairly quietly, but is refusing to make its exit in the same manner.

As a former teacher, I enjoy going back into the classroom from time to time to substitute. This week I have been flooded with calls due to teachers out with the flu, or having to stay home with their own children who have it. I was able to fit a day of substituting into my schedule this week, and out of the 30 children who are in that class, 6 were absent. Of course, children may have a lot of reasons other than the flu for missing class, however, this was a 1st grade class (generally they're still excited about school at that age) prior to the holiday (had it been afterwards, they may have been sick :( from all the candy).

My thoughts were confirmed when I received a call last night requesting to show one of my listings. My client who owns this home was sick with the flu! and I'm fairly sure it was contracted from exposure to a contagious student.

So, what can we do to minimize our exposure to the germs that might land us in bed for a few days with a fever, body-aches, and other issues that come with the flu? The Mayo Clinic has several tips for keeping yourself flu-free:

  1. Get the flu shot - if you missed getting it back in Oct./Nov., it is still possible to get one. Call your doctor, your insurance company, or the Maricopa County Health Department to find out where you might be able to go to receive one.
  2. WASH your hands - this seems like an easy thing to do - and it is - but most of us fail to realize how many germs our hands are exposed to during the course of a day. Door handles, cart handles, telephones, pens/pencils, chairs... we all handle these items without even considering where the hands have been that used these items prior to our own use. The polite cough used to be covered by a hand, but this spreads the germs to everyone and everything that person touches. If you feel a cough or sneeze coming on, rather than your hand, try coughing/sneezing into your shoulder. Use a sanitizing wipe to clean door handles and telephones receivers at home to help minimize the spread of germs.
  3. Eat right & Get good sleep! - Getting the right vitamins/nutrients from food helps our bodies maintain its health, and staying on a schedule that permits our bodies to get ample rest also helps our immune system remain intact. The amount of sleep is different per individual, however. Most adults can manage their health on 7-8 hours of sleep at night, but contrary to what teenagers think... Mayo reports that older children & teens need 9-10 hours of sleep at night.
  4. Regular exercise - Even though exercising won't fend off every infection, it can reduce the severity of the symptoms you do have and help you recover more quickly.
  5. Limit air travel - the inadvertent reduction in air-travel during the fall of 2001 (due to 9/11) showed a significant drop in reported flu cases. But, I would add that anytime you are in a confined space (elevator, classroom, board meeting, waiting room, restaurant, your own home, etc.) for any length of time you are being exposed to whatever germs have been breathed into the air or left on objects by hands, and are circulating waiting for another person to pick up. It has been said that the air in most homes is much more polluted than the air outside. Since we have been enjoying warmer temperatures lately, it might be a good idea to open up your windows (safety first) and let the fresh air in! If you can't do that, try running the fan on your central air unit without turning on the heat or air-conditioner.
  6. Avoid crowds - This is easier said than done, but you can be sensitive to those around you by staying away from others when you are under-the-weather. If you aren't able to remain secluded, remember the other tips... wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, get some fresh air & exercise, and eat the right foods.

I hope you have found these tips helpful/useful. If you are sick in bed right now, don't forget to wipe down your computer keyboard & mouse. I hope you feel better!

Click here to read the flu prevention tips from Mayo.