NHM Health Focus:
It's the winter holiday season!
It's the flu season!
"Flu seasons are unpredictable in a number of ways, including the timing of the beginning, severity, and length of the flu season.
This flu season (2009-2010), there are more uncertainties than usual because of the emergence of a new 2009 H1N1 influenza virus (previously called "novel H1N1" or "swine flu") that has caused the first influenza pandemic (global outbreak of disease) in more than 40 years."
Flu.gov, a website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, maintains a page of information about the latest Myths & Facts where you can get straight answers about H1N1 vaccine rumors. In addition, you can search and find the answers to more than 500 questions about influenza at answers.flu.gov.
If you, or members of your family have not yet received seasonal or H1N1 flu vaccinations, you can use this Flu Clinic Locator to find a place near you that offers flu vaccinations.
Other steps you can take to help avoid getting the flu will also help you to stay healthy throughout the year:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other measures to keep our distance from each other to lessen the spread of flu.
What To Do If You Get Sick: 2009 H1N1 and Seasonal Flu summarizes recommendations from the experts and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
If you do get the flu, CDC experts recommend:
- Stay at home until at least 24 hours after you are free of fever (100° F [37.8°C]), or signs of a fever without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink clear fluids such as water, broth, sports drinks, or electrolyte beverages made for infants to prevent becoming dehydrated.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or clean tissue.
- Clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub often, especially after using tissues or coughing/sneezing into your hands.
- Take medication to relieve the symptoms of flu (but never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms
-- and particularly fever -- without first speaking to your doctor.)
- Get medical attention right away if you:
- Have difficulty breathing or chest pain
- Have purple or blue discoloration of your lips
- Are vomiting and unable to keep liquids down, or
- Show signs of dehydration, such as feeling dizzy when standing
or being unable to urinate.
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum has these resources related to influenza, vaccines and immunity.