As a seasoned worrier, I’m worrying about all of you getting this year’s particularly nasty strain of the flu. Flu expert Daniel Jernigan says, “Of the viruses we hate, we hate H3N2 more than the other ones.” That’s because this fifty year old virus is more able to change quickly to get around the body’s immune system than the other viruses that were also targeted in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine. So, to ease my mind a little, here are some tips for dealing with what we’re up against.
Get Your Flu Shot
If you didn’t get your shot, it’s not too late. I hate shots. I once made the nurse chase me into the bathroom to give me my shot. But it’s worth it. Though it is only about 30% effective on H3N2, it does do a good job against H1N1, another flu virus that is increasingly showing up this year. Also, research shows that if you do get the flu, the vaccine can reduce how sick you get and how long you’re sick. It also helps reduce the spread of the virus through the population. So when I get my flu shot I’m thinking of all of you.
Wash Your Hands – AND Your Sheets
Wash frequently, soap up between your fingers, be sure to get your thumbs, and scrub for about 20 seconds. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt, but really, its 20 seconds out of your life that could save you a week of coughing and hacking and nose blowing.
If your loved one is sick, wash your sheets frequently in hot water. It even helps to wash pillowcases every few days and your bath towels every day or two. While you’re at it, separate your toothbrushes. And if you’re using a humidifier, empty the tank and wipe it down until it’s dry to prevent germs from breeding in there and then spraying them out in your room. Oh – and those TV remotes – wipe them down too.
Given in the first 48 hours, Tamiflu can ease symptoms and shorten your session with the flu. If you miss that 48 hour window, my Mom’s doctor says that you might as well not take it. It only lessens how long you’re sick by a handful of hours and the side effects – diarrhea and vomiting – just aren’t worth it. So she’s struggling through the flu on her own.
So, be well out there, take good care of yourselves, and if something doesn’t seem right – go to the doctor!
Thanks for reading!
Kathy and Rachel