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The Flu Has Worn Out Its Welcome!

Everywhere a person goes these days, they seem to be bombarded by talk of the flu.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Everywhere a person goes these days, they seem to be bombarded by talk of the flu.   Seasonal influenza (flu) viruses can be detected year-round in the United States, but flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. According to the Center for Disease Control, the exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary.  Studies show influenza activity often begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February.  Flu activity can last as late as May.  One particular study showed peak flu activity for the United States month by month from the 1982-2016 flu seasons. During this 34-year period, flu activity most often peaked in February.  Does that mean we can say goodbye to the current flu season soon?   

    Flu season is still here and it is something no one wants to experience. The good news is there are steps everyone can take to help prevent the flu. The following steps are adapted from the CDC website.

One of the ways to help prevent seasonal flu is to get a flu vaccine each year.  While flu vaccinations do not always prevent the flu, they may make your illness milder if you do get sick. Getting vaccinated yourself also protects people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.

Another good way to prevent flu is to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces including your cell phone, door knobs, TV remotes, etc. Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub. Change and wash drying towels regularly and have separate towels for family members and guests or use disposable paper towels to prevent the spread of illness.

Eat nutritious foods. Myplate.gov has resources for helping you determine what healthy foods you should eat.  Good nutrition can reduce our vulnerability to infection and reduce the length and severity of illness if we do become infected.

Stay home when you are sick.  Limit contact with others as much as possible. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine before resuming normal activities.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. It can be tough to stay well when you're in close quarters with someone battling coughs, fevers, and sniffles. Germs spread more easily in tight spaces.  Sometimes the best thing you can do to stay well is to keep your distance.

Get plenty of sleep.  Many effects of a lack of sleep, such as feeling grumpy and not working at your best, are well known. But sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on your physical health.  Lack of sleep can negatively affect your body’s immune system.

Other ways to help prevent the flu is to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth because germs spread quickly this way.  Lastly, be sure to drink plenty of fluids especially water.

     Just developing a few simple habits can help you have a healthy and flu-free year! 

By Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Linda Bates
County Extension Agent - 4-H
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
236 Woodbine Hot Springs AR 71901
(501) 623-6841
lbates@uaex.edu

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