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NOT BORN YESTERDAY: How can you avoid the flu?

By LINDA BROWN, Not Born Yesterday

Despite best efforts to avoid the flu, some people still will get sick this flu season. The symptoms will be less severe if you received a flu shot, but Vintage Park Assisted Living director, Luanne Freund, offered these clues to determine if not feeling well is really the flu or just a case of the blahs.

“It might be the flu if you have fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue or a runny or stuffy nose,” Freund said. “Flu usually occurs during the colder months of the year but can happen outside the typical flu season. Also, other viruses can cause similar flu-like symptoms so it’s impossible to tell for sure whether you have it based on symptoms alone. Lab tests ordered by your doctor are the only sure way to know.”

Freund said if you are concerned about your illness, or are in a high-risk group for complications of the flu, you should consult your doctor. Those considered at risk include people 65 years or older, people with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, pregnant women and young children.

Complications can include bacterial pneumonia, dehydration, sinus and ear infections and the worsening of other medical conditions.

The flu virus usually spreads from person to person in respiratory droplets when people who are infected cough or sneeze. People occasionally might be infected by touching something with influenza virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

Healthy adults might be able to infect others one day before getting symptoms and up to five days after getting sick, meaning it’s possible to give someone the flu before you know you’re sick.

Freund said getting a flu shot is your best defense against the dreaded seasonal malady. After that vigilant hand washing, only coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the crook of your arm and avoiding shaking hands should be practiced habits during flu season.

Linda Brown is marketing director for The Ottawa Herald. Email her at lbrown@ottawaherald.com

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