Eularee Smith
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Stay Well During Flu Season

The signs are everywhere. In fact, for some workers and businesses, it is the law. What seems like common sense has become a necessary warning for most of us. Wash your hands!

The flu has become public enemy number one. The common cold is just that - common. The flu, on the other hand with no pun intended, comes in designer symptoms and names. The Hong Kong flu, the Swine flu, even birds get into the act with Bird flu and Avian flu. There are types of flu, A, B and C. The influenza A and B types are the most common and have symptoms of fever, aching, coughing and sniffles. 

Older adults and especially those with chronic problems like bronchitis and asthma, are at high risk for complications from the influenza virus. Antibiotics are not effective with viral infections placing adults over the age of 84 at the highest risk level and over age 74 at the next level. 

Taking preventative or wellness care measures, such as the annual flu shot, are effective and can reduce hospitalization by 70% and deaths in older adults by 85%, according to the National Institute on Aging, for adults who stay in their homes. For residents in nursing homes and retirement facilities the flu shot can avoid hospitalization and the complications of pneumonia by 60%. The pneumonia vaccine is also recommended and only needs to be administered once with a possible booster in 5 years for those at higher risk.

Another simple preventative measure is washing the hands. It doesn't hurt nearly as much as the shot and is something we can easily do everyday to keep those nasty germs at bay. I heard a wonderful way to be sure you are washing long enough. It is the friction of the rubbing hands that is the real benefit to killing germs, not the temperature of the water. Washing with soap while singing Happy birthday twice is the recommended length of time for a proper hand wash. 

Keep yourself healthy during the cold and flu season. Preventing illness before it starts, not only keeps you healthy, but those around you. Here are a few instances of when hand washing is important to prevent colds and flu.

Wash your hands after:

• Touching parts of your body that are not clean.

• Using the bathroom.

• Coughing, sneezing, or using a handkerchief or disposable tissue.

Singing Happy Birthday is fun way to remind yourself that every day of health is precious.

Image: Flickr/Arlington County & ustadrumer (Creative Commons), 

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