The Centers for Disease Control informs us that this year, the flu season made its appearance a month earlier than usual. Therefore, the flu season and the Holiday season will be celebrated at the same time. That means many people are going to be getting together in confined areas to spread, not only holiday cheer, but also the flu virus.
At one time, it was a badge of courage to go to social events or work while you were sick. I have been the biggest offender of this behavior. I thought I would be letting my patients down if I wasn’t available to see them for their scheduled appointments. In retrospect, by spreading whatever infectious disease I was afflicted with to my patients, I probably caused more illnesses than I cured.
Today, we are more sensitive to the spread of disease. We cringe if someone with a hacking cough sits near us on an airplane.
However, the "cougher" is not always a threat to our health. Frequently, the cause of a cough is not due to infectious diseases, but to allergies, chronic bronchitis or pulmonary disease. But, since you can’t ask the "cougher" about his or her medical history, you turn your head away, worry and wish you brought along a facemask.
Then there is the "sneezer." With every sneeze you are subjected to, you imagine millions of viruses or bacteria going into the air and heading straight to you to inhale.
In some infectious diseases a person is infectious even before symptoms are present. In these situations, you have no clue that some mysterious microorganism had decided to invade your unsuspecting body to test your immune system.
How can you help prevent getting the flu?
Infectious disease experts say one of the best ways is frequent hand washing. Can’t argue with that advice, but studies have shown how infrequently people actually wash their hands.
Getting a flu shot is helpful and it’s not too late.
Should you wear a facemask? Results concerning the effectiveness of facemasks are controversial.
Avoiding crowds is beneficial especially in confined places. Some of my hypochondriac friends believe the best way to prevent getting the flu is to never leave your home. Although, probably the most effective suggestion, it’s also the least practical.