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Holiday Flu and You

Holiday SlippersThe holiday season can be a gleeful time with friends and family and provide a special window to visit with loved ones that may not live close by. This is also usually the time of year when countless people are out shopping and hunting for great gift buying sales. While braving the crowds you could come in contact with someone who has an infection, which might cause you to catch their illness. You may also be unknowingly exposed to airborne viruses that commonly thrive this time of year. Even touching an item a sick person recently came into contact with could pass on that infection to you. Coming down with something like the flu can make your holiday season a nightmare.

Influenza Virus

Here are some basic things you may not know about the influenza virus. There are four primary types of the influenza virus: A, B, C, and D which are commonly known as “the flu”. The types that are usually responsible for causing seasonal epidemics each winter are the human influenza A and B viruses. People who are infected with influenza virus C usually suffer from mild respiratory problems. Flu virus D, for the most part, only affects animals such as cattle.

It is both types A and B of the virus that predominantly cause a danger to people. Normally, the groups of people that are at the highest risk of infection are infants and the elderly. This is because an infant’s immune system has not developed enough to fight off this type of viral infection. The elderly are likely more at risk because the immune system typically weakens as they age. They may not be able to fight off a significant infection from something like the flu that wreaks havoc on their immune system.

Things to Watch Out For

When it comes to illnesses such as the flu, there are a few things to be on the lookout for during the holiday season. Some of the more common symptoms of an influenza infection are a sore throat, cough, and/or a stuffy or runny nose. Everyone’s body and immune system are different, so signs of illnesses could vary from person to person. People that have the flu may experience diarrhea or vomiting but these symptoms are not always present. These symptoms are noteworthy due to the likelihood of dehydration if they occur, which can be extremely dangerous. A few of the other severe and potentially dangerous symptoms of flu are body or muscle aches, fatigue or tiredness, headaches, and fever.

If present, fever is one thing you will probably need to keep a close eye on because it can cause brain damage if left unchecked. Also, it can exacerbate symptoms or medical conditions you already have. The flu and its symptoms can come on suddenly. If you or a loved one starts to have chills or aches throughout the body, then chances are you will want the best thermometer to check for a fever. If the temperature gets too high, approximately one-hundred and three degrees Fahrenheit, or spikes suddenly it may be a good idea to take them to the doctor or emergency room.

Prepare for the Holiday Season

To best prepare for the holidays, you will want to keep a few things in mind to be ready to prevent illness whenever possible. Go ahead and get your influenza vaccination as early as possible from a local pharmacy or your trusted physician. Making sure you wash your hands as much as possible is one of your best tools in illness and flu prevention. You will want to stock up on fluids, especially those that replenish electrolytes. Another great idea is to have fever reducers and other such over the counter medications on hand. Having these available to you during the holidays prevents you from making an unwanted trip to an already crowded store if you are unfortunately sick. 

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