When flu season arrives each year, you probably try your best to avoid getting sick. But are you doing everything you can to stay healthy? Is there more you could do? Here are some tips on how to best support your health this winter.
What Is The Influenza Virus?
The influenza virus is a contagious respiratory illness that bases itself in the lungs after entering the human body. After infection, the virus suppresses the immune system and weakens the immune response. This may result in a pathogen infection that under normal circumstances would be fought off by our immune systems. Sometimes, though, this pathogen will make you sick.1
There are four major types of influenza virus. The influenza virus is only transmitted to humans in two main types. Known as Type A and Type B, these are the virus types that spread the flu in sick people during flu season every year.
The other types of flu influenza are Type C and D. While Type D doesn’t typically cause illness in people, Type C may result in mild respiratory illness. It is not known to be responsible for flu epidemics, however.2
How The Flu Spreads
It’s thought that the flu spreads through the air. When infected droplets pass through the air from a sick person sneezing, talking, or opening their mouth to cough, the droplets then enter another person’s eyes, nose or mucosal tissue.
It is also believed that the flu spreads when someone comes into direct contact with a surface that has been contaminated by the influenza virus. This could occur when you touch your mouth or nose after shaking hands with a sick person.
The spread of germs could also happen if you touch a surface with hands contaminated by flu germs and then touch your mouth.3 Mucosal areas are common entry points for pathogens like the flu virus.4 The risk is high for spreading this contagious respiratory illness in public. This is why it’s best for those who have the flu to stay home until fully recovered.
Who Might Be At Risk For Flu Germs Or Complications From The Influenza Virus?
Virtually everyone is at some level of risk for the flu. However, there are some groups of people at higher risk of flu and some who are at a higher risk for complications from the virus. Flu complications may be dangerous. Anyone affected should seek medical attention immediately. Here is a list of those who are at more considerable risk for flu complications:
- Senior citizens (those aged 65 or older)
- Children under age five (those under the age of 2 are at an even greater risk)
- Someone suffering from kidney, lung, or heart disease, or another illness
- People with weakened immune systems (such as an HIV/AIDS patient)
- Pregnant women5
Possible Signs And Symptoms That You May Be Coming Down With Flu Influenza
While the symptoms of the flu virus may be different from sick person to sick person, the majority of the signs of illness are similar. From fever to a runny or stuffy nose, someone infected with flu germs may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Cough, sore throat
- Achy muscles or body
If you experience any of the above symptoms, or if you know you’ve come in contact with someone infected with the flu, speak to a doctor immediately.
Supporting Your Health: Methods And Tips
It may not be possible to prevent the flu with 100 percent certainty. However, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of staying immune to the virus. Here is a list of ways you can best support your health during flu season:
- Maintain your immune system with good health.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Keep your distance from anyone who may be infected with the influenza virus.
- Wash your hands often (soap and water or sanitizer for your hands are recommended hand washing practices).
- Wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Disinfect and deep clean your home or items you touch often on a regular basis.
- Ask your doctor about the correct flu treatment and prevention for you
Supporting Your Health This Flu Season
Flu season is coming, but you don’t have to live in fear. Share your knowledge and tell others to wash their hands often or to cover their mouths when sneezing or coughing. Offer hand sanitizer to someone in need. No matter how cautious you are, make sure to see your doctor if you feel the symptoms of the flu coming on.