They are the familiar sights and sounds of fall and winter: the sniffling nose, the dry, scratchy voice and the grimace that follows a swallow of medicine. Many people tend to consider the flu as something a visit to the corner drug store will cure. Yet, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the United States more than 100,000 people are hospitalized and approximately 36,000 people will die for the flu and it’s complications every year. The best method to prevent the flu is to speak to you doctor or health care provider who can provide you with the most current flu vaccine. It is the best defense against this year’s flu strain.

People can easily contract the flu virus when someone around them who is infected and is coughing and/or sneezing. You can also contract the flu virus by merely touching the surface of a telephone or by another object that has been contaminated by someone who has the flu. If you have touched a contaminated surface, the virus can pass from your hand to your nose or mouth. In addition, the flu virus can pass through the air and enter your body through your nose or mouth.

Experts recommend prevention as the key to staying healthy during this year’s flu season particularly for elderly patients.

”The flu can cause serious complications for elderly people such as pneumonia and can sometimes lead to hospitalization or death,” said Dr. Sheldon Zinberg, founder of Encore Wellness. “The elderly should take special precautions against contracting the flu because their immune system is not as strong as it once was. Of course, exercise is probably one of the best methods to help you stay healthy and maintain a strong immune system. Your immune system is just that – a system that works in harmony and is affected by your diet, sleep and other lifestyle factors. Those who work out regularly typically have fewer colds and flu symptoms and are able to rebound more quickly if they do suffer from infection. Remember to speak to your doctor about getting a flu shot or before you begin any exercise program,” he said.

Common flu symptoms include fever, body aches, chills, coughing and headaches. People who have flu symptoms should stay home and rest until they are well. This also prevents spreading the flu, since a common way of contracting the highly contagious flu virus is through contact with friends, schoolmates and co-workers.

Before going to the emergency room, experts suggest:

  • Breaking your fever using Aspirin, Tylenol or one or two tablets of Ibuprofen (200 mg) (No Aspirin for children)

  • Drinking plenty of fluids

  • Getting plenty of rest

  • Calling your doctor

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