We are peak flu and cold season, in case you’ve somehow managed to avoid all the sniffling and sneezing thus far. This season has been especially awful, with the Center For Disease Control (CDC) recently announcing the flu has reached near-epidemic levels. If you’re looking for ways to protect yourself from the flu, you can start by getting a flu shot — it’s not too late! Also, if you’ve been able to stay healthy, you better thank whatever Emergen-C gods you worship because you are one of the lucky few.
There’s a good chance that someone(s) you know is currently sick at home with some form of the flu. Perhaps the call is coming from inside the house and you’re trying to figure out how to rid yourself of this runny nosed hell. According to Vox, this year’s flu season has been extra bad due to the particular strain that’s spreading, the H3N2 strain. The CDC reported more than 80 percent of this year’s flu cases involved the H3N2 strain. H3N2 is more difficult to prevent, even with the flu shot, making this year’s spreading strain especially horrible.
While common, the flu shouldn’t be taken lightly. 12,000 Americans die every year due to the flu. That number increases to 56,000 when the the flu season is severe. Children, people over 65, and others with a lowered immune system are especially at risk. With this season being at a near-epidemic level, it’s important that those who are flu ridden do their best to get better, both for their own health and the health of everyone else.
So, if someone comes into your office red nosed and tissue box in tow, here are five things you can tell them to do in order get better (and keep you from getting sick).
1. Stay Home (No But Really)
Going into the office or school when you’re feeling awful may seem like a good way to avoid missing too much work. However, you’re likely hurting your body more than helping. Dr. Caroline Cederquist, founder of bistroMD, previously told Bustle, “If you continue a regular routine when you aren’t feeling well, you could be depriving your body of the extra rest it needs to get you on the mend faster, making your symptoms last longer.” Take advantage of whatever allotted sick days your work has.
2. For The Love of God, Wash Your Hands
It may seem like a no-brainer, but even the CDC lists washing your hands as a way to prevent spreading the flu. Cleaning off countertops and other shared spaces can also help keep germs to themselves. Avoiding close contact is also recommended. While the CDC doesn’t specifically say you should barricade them in a fortress of tissue boxes, that doesn’t seem like a terrible idea.
3. Chug Those Fluids
While there isn’t actually a ton of research to support this claim, drinking fluid has been the go-to for getting better ever since moms existed. Illnesses, like the flu, often cause us to lose more liquids than usual and put our bodies at a greater risk of dehydration. At the very least, it’s likely not doing your body any harm by having an extra glass or two of water when you’re feeling under the weather.
4. Try To Eat Something
At the risk of going full mom, it’s a good idea to stock up on foods that will soothe your stomach (or at least not upset it further). Toast and saltine crackers will be easy on your tummy if you’re feeling nauseous. Probiotic yogurt is also a good go-to to help sort out the good and bad bacteria in your belly.
5. Rest Up, Lil BB
When you’re sick, nothing sounds better than hiding under your covers. (That also sounds good when everyone around you is sick.) Feeling sleepy when you’re sick isn’t just in your head. Some studies suggest that our bodies release a chemical that tones down nervous activity, making us feel sleepier. Plus, sleep plays a role in regulating our immune systems. If there’s ever a time to encourage someone to take a nap, it’s when they’re feeling sick.