How to Stay Protected From the Flu This Winter
Influenza, also known as the flu, is currently at its peak for infection, with it being more common during the winter season. As you may have noticed throughout your life, people all around have the sniffles and have stuffy noses throughout the winter season. The flu is very contagious and is spread easily by breathing small droplets in the air which are let out by daily things, like coughing and breathing. Having the flu can be annoying. It affects people differently, but normally, your immune system will create inflammatory responses and will raise your body temperature, which can give you a fever. This can really make or break a holiday, as well as impact midterms and finals, so it is important to know how to protect yourself this winter.
There are two types of the influenza virus, type A and type B. Type A is the most common and the one we will focus on. Influenza A is a large virus with a membrane made of fats or lipids that protect the virus. This virus can be inactivated, or “killed” by general things such as: soap, alcohol, or detergents. To protect yourself, it is important to keep spaces and your hands clean because it’s common to rub your face or eyes as that is a way the virus can be spread. So having good hygiene is key. A tip I use myself is when I have the need to rub my face, I first put hand sanitizer on my hands to make sure I am keeping myself safe. Keeping your area sanitized can be difficult, so be sure to use sanitizing wipes.
Another way to prevent the flu is getting the vaccine every year. The virus can change and look different because it has genes that seem different. This makes it so our body cannot recognize it and cannot react in enough time to stop it. Having the vaccine allows our immune system to be armed against the flu. You could feel a little sick after getting the vaccine, but it is much better than being completely wiped out for a couple of days. The vaccine allows our body to have a secondary response if we become infected, so we can easily defeat the flu. Therefore, medical professionals encourage the vaccine so we can be safe and not be sick during these joyful times.
The flu is very contagious and spreads very easily. The best thing you can do is protect yourself and drink enough fluids. If caught early, taking medicine, or speaking to your doctor about the best way to protect yourself can help a lot. It is important to separate yourself and isolate yourself from your friends and family if you get the flu, because you do not want to get them sick too. If you do have to go out, try to take hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean, wear a mask, and keep your spaces clean to prevent the spread of Influenza to others. Keep yourself and loved ones safe! Happy Holidays!
This blog post was written for Healthy Young NV by Gary, a High Sierra AHEC Student Ambassador.