Get a Head Start on the Flu Season
Flu season usually starts in October, and that may feel like a long way off.1 But why not don your Girl Scout or Boy Scout hat right now, and get prepared! Plus, be honest – how many times have you made it halfway through flu season without managing to get your flu shot? That’s what I thought.
Here’s a little tip sheet. Learn how to lower your risk of getting the flu, which affects 1 to 2 out of 10 Americans each year—some seriously.2 And review the checklist below to make sure you have supplies on hand, just in case you do get sick.
Prevent the Spread
Follow these tips to help prevent the spread of flu. When appropriate, teach children these tips as well.
- Get vaccinated for seasonal flu in September or whenever the vaccine becomes available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.1
- Whenever possible, stay away from people who are sick .
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing, and then throw it away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. You can also use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Using a household disinfectant, regularly wipe down surfaces you touch often – doorknobs, counters, telephones, and remotes, for example.
- If you get sick, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever or signs of fever end.
- Know your company’s policy for sick days, and make sure you have a bank of days you can depend upon. Also have a backup plan for childcare.
- If you can, keep the sick person in a separate room. Have games, coloring books, or movies on hand for entertainment in the sick ward!3,4
Stock Up on Supplies
No time like the present! (And it’s not much fun to make a run to the drug store when you’re sick, is it?) Here’s what you can do to prepare:
- Check your medicine cabinet. Do you have a pain reliever, fever reducer, decongestant, lozenges, and cough syrup on hand? Double check expiration dates and review doses for the different members of your family.
- If you take a prescription medication or have a chronic illness, make sure you have the medicines you need.
- Make sure your thermometer and humidifier are in working order.
- Also, buy a few extra boxes of tissues, hand sanitizer, and paper towels. When flu season starts, put a bottle of hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol in every room.
- Freeze some leftovers or purchase some easy-to-make and easy-to-digest foods. Don’t forget to include lots of fluids – so important for a speedier recovery.
- And what about Fido or Bella? Don’t let pet food or cat litter run out.4,5
You can find most of these supplies in our store. Either someone on staff or I can help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
- St. Louis Children’s Hospital: Preparing for Flu Season. Available at: http://www.stlouischildrens.org/articles/wellness/preparing-flu-season Accessed 7-3-18.
- FamilyDoctor.org: Preventing the flu. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/preventing-the-flu/ Accessed 7-3-18.
- CDC: Preparing for the Flu. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/faithbased/pdf/H1N1_FBO_toolkit.pdf Accessed 7-3-18.
- WebMD: Cold and Flu on the Rise? How to Prepare. Available at: https://symptoms.webmd.com/cold-flu-map/get-ready-cold-flu-season Accessed 7-3-18.
- Kaiser Permanente: Be Prepared for Flu Season. Available at: https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/healthAndWellness/index.jhtml?item=%2Fcommon%2FhealthAndWellness%2Fconditions%2FcoldsAndFlu%2Fflu-checklist.html Accessed 7-3-18.
Give Sleep a Fighting Chance!
Is there anything as delicious as a good night’s sleep? Nothing renews you like sleep. It even helps strengthen memories and can enhance your creativity.1
Unfortunately, adults older than 60 have more trouble getting deep sleep—the kind that helps cement memories.1 Now, researchers also think a lack of sleep may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In a small study, losing just one night’s sleep increased levels of a protein that’s linked with the disease.2
Those are some pretty good arguments for improving your sleep habits, don’t you think? So, what can you do differently? Maybe start by keeping a sleep diary, tracking your routines and sleep patterns. Here are some tips to help ensure you get the best-quality sleep possible:
During the day
- Eat a healthful diet.
- Exercise most days of the week.
- Work worries? Relationship wrangles? Money troubles? These can all affect your sleep. These don’t always have a simple solution, but you can develop habits to nip stress in the bud. Practice yoga. Take “breathers” throughout the day. Try progressive muscle relaxation. Meditate. What else can you try?
- Limit naps to 20 minutes.
- Save thrillers or exciting television for daytime viewing, especially if you know it will rev you up. 3,4
Late in the day
- Starting in late-afternoon, stay away from caffeine—whether in coffee, tea, or chocolate.
- Avoid eating large meals late in the day. To stave off any hunger you feel, a light, healthy snack is okay.
- Turn off your electronic devices at least a half-hour before bedtime.
- Create a relaxing routine. Soak in a bubble bath. Stretch. Read. Listen to soothing music. You know what works best for you.3
Right before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime. To prevent wakeful trips to the bathroom, drink fewer fluids right before you head off to bed.
- Keep a “worry journal.” Write down what’s on your mind, so you can free yourself of thoughts that may keep you up.5
- Make your bedroom a sanctuary: Limit bright lights and loud sounds. Keep the room a comfortable, cool temperature. If you’re particularly sensitive, room-darkening shades, earplugs, or a fan might help.6
- Keep a consistent sleep schedule that allows you to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Go to bed and get up at the same times, even on weekends or during vacations.3
- Wait to go to bed until you feel sleepy. Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes. 3
If you need more help
Be sure to see your doctor if sleep problems persist. Both medical and emotional issues may make it difficult to sleep well. You might even have a sleep disorder. Also, ask your doctor or me about any medications, herbs, or supplements that could be affecting your sleep.5 If you require a sleep aid, I can explain what you need to know about both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
- National Institutes of Health: “Sleep On It.” Available at: https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2013/04/sleep-it Accessed 6-1-18.
- National Institutes of Health: “Lack of sleep may be linked to risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.” Available at: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/lack-sleep-may-be-linked-risk-factor-alzheimers-disease Accessed 6-1-18.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Healthy Sleep Habits.” Available at: http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits Accessed 6-1-18.
- Familydoctor.org: “Sleep Changes in Older Adults.” Available at: https://familydoctor.org/sleep-changes-in-older-adults/?adfree=true Accessed 6-1-18.
- MedlinePlus: “Changing your sleep habits.” Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000757.htm Accessed 6-1-18.
- Mayo Clinic: “Adult health.” Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379?p=1 Accessed 6-1-18.