The CDC estimates that the flu is responsible for 35 million illnesses and 56,000 deaths annually since 2010. This enormous footprint touches nearly every person in America. When a family member, coworker, or classmate becomes sick, we must constantly monitor the situation to prevent spreading illness or becoming ill ourselves.
This blog will go over four tips that individuals can use to fight the flu for themselves and for their family. Facility managers can use these tips to promote a healthy culture in their building(s) and stay ahead of the bug this flu season.
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent the flu.
1. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Adequate rest, proper nutrition, regular exercise, and reduced stress go a long way to creating a healthy immune system that is ready to resist the flu virus. The more our schools and workplaces encourage a healthy lifestyle, the more people will be empowered to care for themselves. On the other hand, working long hours, pulling all-nighters, and skipping meals can leave the immune system vulnerable to the flu. Also, as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder, people spend less time outside getting valuable vitamin D from the sun. A 2017 study published in BMJ found that vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of getting a respiratory infection (like the flu) by 10 to 50 percent.
2. Vaccinate Early in the Season
According to Dr. Rachel Orscheln, the Washington University pediatric infectious disease physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, it takes about two weeks for a vaccine to take effect and generate neutralizing immunity. Because of that delay, the flu vaccine should be given at the first availability, well in advance of exposure to a person with the flu.
“Remember, the vaccine does two things: prevents you from getting the flu in the first place, and if you get it, reduces the severity.”
– Darria Long Gillespie, clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine as quoted by Allure in October 2018.
Vaccinate early during flu season.
3. Take Action at the Earliest Symptom
The flu has many symptoms that announce its arrival, but sudden or abnormal fatigue is often the first sign and the first opportunity to take action. When sudden or abnormal fatigue strikes, don’t wait for more symptoms to appear. Send the symptomatic person home and to bed. Immediate rest can give the body the opportunity to fight off the virus and prevent a more severe illness from taking hold.
Send a symptomatic person home as soon as flu symptoms present.
4. Clean, Disinfect, Repeat
According to a 1982 study, the flu can remain active on a surface for up to 48 hours. This creates the need to effectively clean and disinfect all major touch points with the two-step process of cleaning (read about it here). At home, create a routine of addressing all touch points in a sick person’s vicinity multiple times a day. Professional cleaners, rework your routine to increase touch-point disinfection frequency and to focus on areas where disease spreads: drinking fountains, restrooms, door knobs, and desktops. Remember that the flu is hitting everyone at the same time, which could lead to supply shortages. Plan ahead by stocking up on soap, tissues, paper towels, and alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
Flu Season stretches across half the year and brings with it the threat of illness. For many people, that illness will last a week or two, but, for some, the flu can cause major health complications and even death. By preparing ahead for flu season and taking these common-sense preventative measures, we can help limit the spread and impact of the flu this year.