There’s no other way to say it—getting the flu is the pits. Well, I suppose technically there are plenty of other ways to say it but not too many of them would be appropriate for this website.
If you’ve made it through the winter so far without getting the flu, good for you! So far millions of people in our country alone have contracted some form of the flu, from the Type A influenza strain to the new flu kid on the block, the H1N1 or “swine” flu.
Technically, flu, or influenza, is a viral infection that typically attacks your nose, throat, bronchial tubes and/or lungs. In other words, your respiratory system. The common cold can do many of these things too but with flu symptoms will come on very quickly and you’ll usually feel a lot worse. With flu you’ll also usually run a fever over 101 degrees, have the chills, feel muscular aches and pains, have a headache, not feel like eating, and/or have a dry cough.
I’ve had the real, honest-to-God flu a few times in my life and it really is akin to feeling like you’ve been hit by the proverbial bus. With a cold you can often still function, but with the flu, get the couch cushions fluffed and fresh batteries in the remote—you are not going to be doing much of anything until the virus runs its course.
Most of us who get the flu feel like you-know-what for a few days and then we bounce back and get back to business. But the flu can be deadly for some people so we definitely need to take it seriously when it strikes. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website states that every year in the United States alone, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from the flu and 36,000 people die from complications.
The CDC’s website also lists three key actions that we can take that may help reduce our risks of developing the flu this year. The first one, called “Take everyday preventive actions” is really reminiscent of the “Mother knows best” style of advice.
For example, when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Then when you’ve finished achooing or coughing, toss the Kleenex in the trash. Don’t have a tissue handy? Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow.