What to do when your mom or Nurse Barb isn’t there to help.
Here’s what you need to know:
• As of Jan 12. 2015, the flu is already affecting over ½ of the country.
• You can use the CDC’s Flu tracker to see how the flu is affecting your area.
Guidelines for Staying Home and Not Spreading Germs
• Remember, you are most contagious in the first 24 hours when your symptoms are likely to be at their worst, so if you feel like you’ve been knocked flat, can barely get out of bed, can’t think, are feverish, have chills, or you are achy, then STAY HOME! Your body needs rest to recover. Also, this way, you won’t spread your germs to others.
• I know that many people need specific guidelines, so I’ve taken the guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and simplified them. If you have 2 or more of the following, you need to stay home.
– Fever over 101o F – Not everyone has a fever with a cold or flu, however a fever is your body’s way of trying to heat up to fight off an infection.
– Cough: I’m not talking “a morning, clear my throat, once every 2-3 hours, kind of cough,” I mean the persistent, irritated, bringing up mucus kind of coughing that occurs repeatedly. This is the type of cough that spreads germs and can leave you feeling worn out and exhausted.
– If you just can’t stop coughing, are feeling short of breath, hear wheezing or a barking sound with your cough, are a smoker with a new type of cough, have asthma or heart disease then do see your health care provider (HCP) right away for an evaluation.
– Sore throat: If your throat feels raw, irritated, as if there’s crushed glass, or that it’s so swollen and constricted and swallowing is impossible without pain, then this is the type of sore throat that needs time to heal.
– If you’re also coughing, then a sore throat can get worse and worse and feel dry and irritated. Working and talking is not a good idea, sipping soothing liquids, using over the counter medications to ease coughing and pain and resting is a better option.
– If you see white patches on the back of your throat, then it’s time to see your health care provider. (HCP)
– Stuffed up and/or Runny nose: When it comes to mucus, clear is ok, but yellow or green is the indicator to stay home. The nose is connected to the sinuses, which are in the forehead over your eyes and under your cheekbones in the area just under the eyes. When these areas are stuffed up with sinus congestion, it can cause significant pain.
– If the pain is severe, or if you’re prone to sinusitis, then see your HCP.
– Headache: Sinus congestion, persistent coughing and even a fever can cause a headache, which is why it’s often helpful to use a multi-symptom over the counter cough, cold and flu remedy that treats multiple symptoms as most people have more than one symptom.
– A headache plus a fever and severe sore throat with white patches is something to pay attention to and could be a sign of strept throat. If you aren’t tolerating light or sounds, that may be a migraine.
– Body aches: This is the way your immune system tells you that it’s working hard to fight off infection. Your body needs REST to recover, so if you don’t usually have body aches and you have no other reason for aches, such as running a marathon, doing heavy lifting or other strenuous activities and you have other symptoms, then do stay home, rest, watch movies and get better faster.
– Chills: This seems counter intuitive, however chills are your immune system’s way of working your muscles to create heat to fight off infection. Chills are also a very good sign that you’re either in Alaska fishing on a crab boat or that you are truly sick and need to Stay Home. So unless you’re outside in sub zero temperatures, if you have the chills, it’s ok to stay home.
– Fatigue: Your body needs lots of energy to mobilize your immune system and fight off infections. If you’ve had the chills, lots of coughing or a fever, you can become fatigued very easily. Despite how hard you push yourself, when you’re sick, your body is working overtime to recover and it needs all the help you can give it by resting and, yes, you guessed it, staying home.
– Ears: When you wiggle your earlobe, does it hurt? Are sounds more muffled? Do you feel like you’re under water? Sinus congestion can travel to the Eustachian tubes, which connect our ear canals to our noses and sinuses. These teeny, tiny tubes can get stuffed up and/or infected also.
– Pay attention to ear pain, especially if you also have a fever or if the pain increases when you lie down, which could indicate that there’s an ear infection and then you may want to see your HCP.
What’s most important to remember?
• It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine – though it doesn’t cover all the possible strains and isn’t 100% perfect, it does offer some protection.
• Wash your hands frequently
• Wipe down surfaces to help decrease the spread of germs
• Stay hydrated
• Use soft tissues just once and then discard
• Keep your medicine cabinet stocked and ready with a multi-symptom remedy
I personally use DayQuil Severe when I have to function during the day and NyQuil Severe to get rest and avoid the constant coughing, headache and stuffiness and tossing and turning at night.
When you’re thinking about tissues, remember what your face is facing this time of year! It’s easy to rub your nose raw from sniffles and sneezing, so I looked at the research on what dermatologists recommend and found that Puffs Plus Lotion is the only national brand that’s dermatologist tested for sensitive skin.
Disclosure: I’m working with Vicks to help educate the public on the flu and how to treat it.