The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that flu season runs from late November through March each year. The CDC reports that at the end of December, 2017, flu is widespread in 36 states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware. The incubation period for the flu is between 1 and 4 days, with people being able to infect others a day or so before getting symptoms and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means it’s pretty easy to spread the flu before you know you’re even sick, and it means there’s a greater chance of catching the flu from just being out in public. And for older people, the flu and other respiratory illnesses can run the risk of turning into more serious issues like pneumonia.
Here at Kendal~Crosslands Communities, we make sure every employee gets the flu shot annually to reduce the risk of transmission, and encourage our resident to do so as well. But we all know the flu shot varies in effectiveness year to year, so what other steps can you take to try to prevent getting sick in the first place?
Check the Indoor Humidity. The weather outside has been cold and blustery here in Pennsylvania, and we’re all spending a lot of time indoors with the heat on, and maybe even by a crackling fire. But if you are noticing more static electricity, dry skin and a dry nose, it’s likely the humidity in your home is low and it could affect your health. WebMD explains that the mucus in your nose helps trap viruses and other invaders, so dry nostrils can make you more vulnerable to colds, sinus infections and the flu. The heating system may also circulate dust, pollen and other allergens in your home, causing other breathing problems.
To combat this, you can use a humidifier, aiming for 30-50% humidity. Any higher than that, and you run the risk of mold and dust mites, so the key here is a happy balance and keeping the humidified air clean. Also by hydrating, drinking water and other liquids throughout the day, you’ll help keep your skin and mouth moist while improving your resistance to germs in the environment.
The CDC also recommends keeping on top of good health habits during flu season including:
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and staying home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Certainly covering your own mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing is important, and helps prevent others from getting sick. MIT did a study and found a sneeze can travel up to 200 feet, so those innocuous sneezes cover more distance than you expect!
- Washing Hands. Washing your hands often, keeping hand sanitizer close by, and even wiping down items several people use, including the phone, remotes, light switches and keyboards can help eliminate the spread of germs.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This one is important to avoid spreading germs, but it can be really hard when your mucous membranes are dry, especially due to spending time indoors during cold weather. That’s why staying hydrated and adding a humidifier may also help!
- Keep other good habits in mind– Get good sleep, be physically active, manage stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious meals. This will help you from getting run down, and keep your immune system in fighting shape!
These tips can’t guarantee you won’t get sick this season, but they will lessen your chances and help protect your family and community from getting sick if you do get sick yourself. An ounce of prevention and staying hydrated can help make this flu season less of a worry for everyone! And don’t forget that we have a fully licensed Medicare Certified Health Center on campus to take care of health needs, to help you as needed! Give us a call to learn more about our Wellness Center and how we take a proactive approach to keeping you healthy by calling us at (844)-907-1800 today!