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Weathering the flu

In a conversation earlier today, a friend told me that their little boy spiked a temperature of 106 last night. They gave him alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen. They also sprayed him down with rubbing alcohol. By this morning at the doctor’s office, his temperature was down to 99.5.

There are so many different bugs going around right now, it seems like a real risk to be in public and in groups of people close together. So, what are the best ways to keep from getting the flu we might ask ourselves?

I watched a short video on Facebook that someone sent from a doctor advising people NOT to get flu shots because they are only 10 percent effective. He said the shots might also cause cancer. On the other hand, doctors on TV have said that even at 10 percent effective, a flu shot is still important to get. He also said that if a person has had the shot and gets the flu, their symptoms will not be as severe. Then he added that children under 5 and adults over 65 wouldn’t be helped by the shot.

Who should a person believe? Was this person even qualified to be dispensing this advice? With the computer age, and YouTube videos, it’s hard to discern what is true and what is fake.

The best way to treat the flu is not to get it in the first place. Avoid large crowds. Wash hands regularly. Be careful about rubbing eyes, nose, or mouth with hands after being in public places. Keep wet wipes in your pocket to wipe down shopping cart handles. (Some stores have already begun to do this and have a dispenser by the shopping carts.) If a person thinks they have the flu, they should avoid going out in public where they may contaminate others.

Don’t send sick children to school if they have a fever, vomiting or diarrhea. If they only have cold symptoms, send Kleenex with them to school to cover their mouths and wipe their nose. It is not the school’s responsibility to supply nose tissue for the children. It simply isn’t in the budget. Working parents should make other arrangements to provide child care for a sick child besides sending them to school to contaminate everyone else’s children. And teachers shouldn’t go to school and contaminate a whole classroom just because it is so difficult to find a substitute teacher. Stay in bed and prevent contaminating a whole classroom.

According to the Web MD site on the internet, if a person has the flu, making sure to drink lots of fluids is very important. With vomiting and diarrhea, it is very easy to get dehydrated. Dehydratoin can lead to all kinds of other issues. Drinking plenty of water is a good idea and staying away from caffeine drinks is another.

According to other news reports, running to the doctor and demanding antibiotics is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Flu symptoms pretty much have to run their course. One program warned against taking over the counter cough suppressants when coughing and difficulty breathing are present. The body’s cough response is a natural one that is needed to break up phlegm and clear the lungs. Taking cough medicine can actually work against the person getting better, and in some cases may make things much worse.

If you get the flu, unless your symptoms become much more complicated, stay home. Drink lots of fluids. Eat soup. Stay on the sofa or in the bed and rest. Preserve energy. Avoid being around other people. Use a humidifier. Gargle, swish and spit to kill out germs and bad tastes in the mouth.

My advice is also to say a prayer and get as much extra sleep as your body needs until you begin to recover. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if what a person has is flu or some other bug going around. In either case, rest, sleep and making sure to drink fluids is good advice. Seeing a doctor if symptoms get worse or high fever comes into the picture is also a good idea.

Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at judith99@bellsouth.net or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.