Monday, November 1, 2010

Winter is coming... so are colds and the flu

Yup, if you live in the northern parts of the world, you know that winter is coming and it seems to be coming a lot faster in some parts than in others. But even if you live in warmer areas, colds and influenza can still strike, so you're not entirely out of the woods. Sorry!

Some people still believe that getting cold or wet can make you sick, it's not true. A cold virus or influenza virus is there whether you're cold or not. But, being cooped up on a crowded bus with the windows closed and not going outside very much, spending more time indoors with people around you - that does help spread viruses. So, that is why people seem to get sicker in the winter than in the summer.

Avoiding the colds and flu:

  • Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands.

There you go. That's the secret. When someone is sick and they pull open on the door handle, borrow your pen, use your keyboard, or press an elevator button and they you touch any of those - if you don't wash your hands, the next time you bring your hands to near your face,  you just might be transferring the virus to your own body. So - wash your hands!

Don't be fooled by people who don't look sick. You can be infected with the influenza virus and not look or feel it for up to 24 hours before  you realize you're sick. So, the coworker that looks fine today? He may be flat on his back with the flu tomorrow and neither of you know it yet.

  • Get vaccinated

Yes, many people feel that vaccinations are a waste of time and are dangerous. Well, they're not a waste of time and what is dangerous is getting the flu and dying. While we know that high-risk groups like the elderly and those with chronic illnesses can be hit hardest with the flu and develop severe and fatal complications, these complications can strike anyone. Just ask 24-year-old Jen Ludwin, who came down with H1N1 last year. Here is her story: Faces of Sepsis - Jen Ludwin

Of course, not everyone can be vaccinated - there are reasons why someone may not be able to, such as allergies to the vaccine. They need to be extra careful with the handwashing and avoid areas where they may be exposed to people who are already ill.

While you can get over a cold, usually pretty easily - they can also be severe. Unfortunately, we're no closer to solving the common cold problem now than we were years ago. But we can help either prevent or decrease the severity of influenza. Think about it.