The leaves are changing, the birds are chirping, the air is crisp, and the children are away at school. There’s only one thing that could ruin this lovely season, and its name is flu. It strikes fear in the hearts of all parents sending their little ones off to germ-infested school, and all working adults start to frantically cover themselves in hand sanitizer as the flu makes its way around the office. It seems that by now, we’d know everything about the flu, but there are still some things you may not know. Here are seven! Take a minute to educate yourself and get that much better at protecting your fall from the flu.
Did You Know: You’re contagious before you’re sick?
What? How can that be? That nasty virus can live in your body for up to four days before you start to feel symptoms. When you add in that the virus is most contagious in the first couple of days, and you have a recipe for spreading. This is why it is so important to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and use tissues when necessary to minimize contact with germs.
Did You Know: Breathing can spread the flu?
When you breathe, small droplets are released, and these contain traces of flu virus. We often associate sneezing or coughing with spreading germs, but research has found that the amount of virus in the droplets from a cough or sneeze is the same as that of breathing alone. This means that you can spread the virus just as much with or without a cough. The best practice for helping keep germs from spreading is to stay home at the first sign of illness. While at home, keep things as clean and sanitized as possible to help protect your family.
Did You Know: The flu can live on the table?
Or the floor or counter top or phone? The flu virus can survive two entire days on a nonporous surface and up to twelve hours on soft materials. Have antibacterial wipes stocked in your house and office, especially during flu season, and wipe things down regularly. Throw used tissues in the trash immediately, and keep clothing clean.
Did You Know: A mask won’t help?
Rephrase: A mask won’t help you avoid the flu. It will help you not to pass it to others. Surgical masks are designed to prevent the flow of particles outward, not to prevent them from going inward. That said, it can serve as a reminder and prevent you from touching your nose or mouth. However, studies show that you are less protected by wearing a mask than if you just got a flu shot. You’ll be more comfortable too!
Did You Know: You can’t get it from the dog?
Pets can contract flu virus, and they may cough or sneeze or have other symptoms similar to ours. However, flu strains are specific to certain species, so you can’t get it from them, nor can you give it to them. That said, pets can carry other germs or diseases, so it is a good idea to keep pet coats and areas clean and sanitary to guard against illness.
Did You Know: Vitamin C doesn’t protect you?
For years vitamin C has been on the frontline of defense against cold and flu. Turns out, there is almost no evidence that it is an effective prevention method. While vitamin C does help to boost immune health, it won’t keep the average person from getting a virus. The benefit of vitamin C during cold and flu seems to lie solely in its ability to shorten the longevity of the illness, which is helpful, but it’s not enough. It is also important to note that vitamin C in large doses can lead to kidney stones, nausea, and diarrhea, so don’t rely on vitamin C supplements as a means of fighting off that flu.
Did You Know: Flu makes you social?
The strangest for last: A study from the Annals of Epidemiology shows that in the first days that a person is exposed to the flu virus, while the virus is still largely asymptomatic, he or she becomes more social. The study revealed that, not only does an infected person have more social interaction, he or she interacts with twice as many people as a non-infected person and in larger groups. This information combined with the knowledge of how quickly the flu can spread before a person knows they’re sick provides even more motivation for keeping hands and surfaces clean and for getting a flu shot. Clearly, we are learning new information all the time about how the flu virus behaves. But the bottom line remains that cold and flu are highly-contagious, and there is no substitute for a flu vaccine and good hygiene when it comes to prevention. TrustCare Express offers flu shots, and walk-ins are welcome. Come visit us today at one of our five convenient locations!