With winter fully upon us, the flu season is in full swing. From children to the elderly, the flu is keeping millions of people away from school, out of work and in the house. Worse for specific groups, the flu is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths annually in the U.S. While the flu virus itself is found in multiple variations and mutations, two of the easiest ways to avoid it are two of the most simple things you can do each day.
_First, wash your hands. Unfortunately for most people, hand washing is something that happens only a few times per day. However, if there is one thing that is true about all variations of the flu virus, it is that the flu virus is resilient. Washing your hands may not kill it, but it removes the virus and other germs you encounter every day from door knobs, water fountain spigots, desks and other surfaces we commonly touch.
_Secondly, wear a mask. Look specifically for something that is at least N95 rated. This is the minimum recommended by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) to protect against the influenza virus.
_Masks come in a variety of styles and sizes with different filtration options, but something as simple as a basic N95 mask can put a barrier between you and illness. While there is still some stigma associated with wearing a mask in public, this in minor when compared to some of the virulent strains of the flu that are out there. You only need read the second paragraph of this CNN article to highlight this point.
_Additionally, for the elderly, the very young and for those who are at risk of flu complications, it is recommended to get an annual flu shot. While this does not guarantee you will not contract the flu, it does reduce your risk. To find your nearest location to obtain a flu vaccination visit the Flu.gov website.
_By taking a few simple steps and making minor changes to your hygiene regimen, you can do yourself a big favor and increase your chances of keeping the flu away during the holiday season.
Author: K. Gilmore