Welcome to Healthy Tips! Every other month we will post useful health care tips for women here on our website. These will cover topics of interest to women of all ages. We hope you find the information helpful.
No doubt about it, cold and flu season is already here. You can keep yourself and your family healthy by following some simple guidelines, and getting your flu shot.
Boost Your Immune System
* Get your rest: If you are tired all the time, you have a greater chance of getting sick. Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.
* Exercise: People who exercise 20 to 30 minutes a day five days per week catch fewer colds. Exercise boosts your body’s overall health thanks to improved heart and lung function, and researchers now say it may actually raise the number of immune cells in the body.
* Leave Your Nose Alone! Cold and flu germs enter the body through your nose, mouth and eyes, so don’t touch these areas without washing your hands first. And, if you get sick, avoid touching these areas while you are ill, as you can reinfect yourself.
* Eat healthy: Getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, milk and healthy proteins helps give your body the tools it needs to stay strong.
* Stay hydrated. When you are dehydrated, your body is more vulnerable to illness.
* Wash your hands: This is the single most important step you can take to avoid colds and flu. Use plenty of soap and lukewarm water, and lather and rinse several times. Avoid water that is too hot as it can crack and dry your hands, leaving you open to infection.
Get Your Flu Shot
The flu shot is the best way to prevent getting the flu, yet less than half of American adults get vaccinated, according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Here are some misconceptions that kept people from getting the vaccine:
* You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. If you do get sick around the time of getting the shot, it is either from another virus that causes similar symptoms, or you had already been exposed to the flu before you got your shot.
* The flu needs to be taken seriously. Every year more than 200,000 Americans are hospitalized due to respiratory and heart complications as a result of the flu.
* While the very young, elderly, and those with weakened immune systems or existing lung issues are most at risk for suffering more severe cases of the flu, ANYONE who comes into contact with other people is at risk for getting the disease, and should therefore get the shot. Getting the shot protects you and also keeps you from bringing the illness home to your family.
* It is not too late to get your shot–the flu season extends into March.
* There are vaccines available that are non-eggbased so those with egg allergies can still get the flu shot; there are also nasal spray vaccines. Talk to your doctor about which one is best.
If You Do Get Sick, Know Your Illness: How to Tell the Difference Between a Cold and the Flu
* Sometimes cause a low fever–less than 101 degrees.
* Typical symptoms are sore throat, mild headache, sneezing, runny nose.
* You feel tired, but can usually manage daily chores.
* A cold typically comes on gradually, often over a few days.
* You usually don’t need to see the doctor, unless symptoms worsen or you experience:
- Prolonged coughing
- Fever that goes higher, or doesn’t go down with medication
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus pain
- Chest pain
- Increased mucus or a change in type
* Causes a fever above 102 degrees.
* Your body aches all over.
* You feel extremely tired, and need to stay in bed.
* The flu usually hits you suddenly.
* Seeing a doctor is usually advised, and especially for those who are very young, elderly, or have compromised immune systems or existing lung/heart conditions.
By taking a few precautions, it is possible to have a healthy flu season.
For more information about Partners for Women’s Health call (603) 778-0557.
Get Your Flu Shot
Over the years, some women have expressed concern about whether to get a flu shot or not when they are pregnant. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), getting a flu shot while you are pregnant is not only safe, it is one of the best things you can do.
* Influenza is a serious illness, and can cause significant problems when you are pregnant. Even normally healthy women can develop complications if they contract the flu while pregnant. The reason is because pregnancy itself causes changes in a woman’s heart, lung and immune system functions. According to the CDC, pregnant women who get the flu are at a higher risk of hospitalization and even death, than non-pregnant women. Severe illness in the mother can be dangerous to the baby because it increases the chance of premature labor and delivery.
* Getting a flu shot protects both you and your unborn baby.
When you get your flu shot, your body starts to make antibodies that help protect you against the flu. These antibodies are passed on to your unborn baby and help protect the baby for up to six months after he or she is born. This is important because vaccines do not work in babies younger than six months. In fact, babies younger than six months cannot get the flu vaccine because they will not develop a sufficient immune response.
If your child is already born, and you breastfeed your infant, your antibodies from your flu shot may be passed on to your child in your breast milk.
It takes about two weeks for your body to make antibodies after getting the flu vaccine.
* The flu vaccine comes in two forms–the injectable form or flu shot, and a nasal spray or LAIV vaccine. The LAIV vaccine is NOT recommended for pregnant women. Pregnant women should receive the flu shot.
* The nasal spray is for use in healthy people ages 2 to 49 who are NOT pregnant.
* Women who are not pregnant, but are breastfeeding, may receive either the flu shot or the nasal vaccine.
* You can receive the flu shot at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant. Millions of flu shots have been given to women over the years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their infants.
* If you have your baby before getting your shot, you still need to be vaccinated. The flu is spread from person to person. If you get the flu, you can pass it to your child. Anyone in the household who comes in contact with your baby should be vaccinated.
* The side effects of the flu vaccine are typically mild. The most common are tenderness, soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Some people also experience headaches, muscle aches, fever, nausea or fatigue after getting the shot. This usually passes in a day or two.
* If you have symptoms of the flu, even if you have already had a shot, call your doctor immediately. Doctors can prescribe medications to treat the flu and reduce the chance of serious illness. These medications should be started as soon as possible. If you have any or all of these symptoms call your doctor:
* Sore throat
* Body aches
* Runny or stuffy nose
If you have any of the following symptoms, call 911 or seek emergency medical care right away:
* Problems breathing or shortness of breath
* Pain or pressure on the chest or abdomen
* Sudden dizziness or confusion
* Severe or constant vomiting
* Decreased or no movement of your baby
* High fever that is not responding to Tylenol or another acetaminophen
If you have further questions about the flu or flu vaccine, talk to your doctor. You may also get additional information at 1-800-CDC-INFO or by visiting www.flu.gov.
Portions of this information were provided by the Centers for Disease Control.
For more information about Partners for Women’s Health, call (603) 778-0557.