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Fresh air, hydration key to health in flu season

Fresh air, hydration key to health in flu season
Fresh air, hydration key to health in flu season
Illustration by Alisha Sonner

Fever, aches, chills and fatigue. Brace yourselves! Flu season is upon us.
Symptoms of influenza, otherwise known as the flu, a highly contagious disease, are about to rear their ugly heads again. According to the Indiana Adult Immunization Coalition, flu season officially began after the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21).
‘The flu hits our area late January,’ Harrison County Health Dept. registered nurse Jeanine Fonda said, adding sickness can last through the month of March. Fonda said this time of year, people are closed inside due to cold weather and visiting many people because of the holidays, and that can serve as a breeding ground for spreading infection.
‘We’re keeping our germs inside,’ she said.
So far, Fonda said the health department has given about 900 flu shots and still has many left for those looking to safeguard against the virus.
According to the Web site, flu vaccinations need to be updated annually because different strains of the virus develop each year. The vaccine targets those specific strains and stops their infection ability.
‘Influenza vaccines are safe and effective,’ Dr. Roland Grieb, chair of IAIC, said in a news release. ‘Although mild side effects are possible, a person cannot get influenza from the vaccine.’
Fonda said, of 38,000 people in Harrison County, she thinks the health department gives out about 2,000 vaccines a year. This number does not include vaccines given by Harrison County Hospital or other providers in the area.
From statistics released by the IAIC, it’s reported 226,000 people are sent to the hospital each year from the life-threatening disease. Another 36,000 die from complications. This year, the IAIC estimates 300,000 to 1 million Hoosiers will be susceptible to the flu.
Besides getting vaccinated for flu prevention, Fonda has a few other suggestions for keeping healthy during the sickness season.
‘Lots of fresh air, lots of hydration (and) good fruits and vegetables, fresh when possible,’ she said. ‘Those are the tried and true (things) everybody knows.’
She said even a sickness myth like eating chicken soup to help feel better has a grain of truth.
‘The reason that helps is, it’s liquid,’ she said. ‘We’re hydrating, keeping our systems healthy.’
She also suggests replacing furnace filters if a household has been hit with a bug.
‘The fresh air, it’s amazing how the fresh air really does make a difference,’ Fonda said. ‘We turn on our furnaces, keep our windows and doors shut.’
A clean filter, she said, will keep the air in peoples’ homes as fresh as possible.
Staying hydrated can also be a challenge, since, overall, it’s not hot enough to cause sweating, which would make people feel thirsty.
‘We don’t drink enough in the winter time,’ she said.
Vaccines are still available at the health department. The cost is $15 per shot. Appointments can be made by calling 738-3237.