By Riva Preil
Look out for the person coughing next to you on the train, because flu (short for influenza) season is in full swing. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s strain of the virus may be worse and more severe than in the past (refer to The Washington Post article link here). The common symptoms of the flu include fever, coughing, nasal congestion, coldness, achy joints, headache, fatigue, and watery eyes; however 33% of infected individuals are asymptomatic. The flu vaccine and proper hygiene are recommended for prevention of the disease. This includes proper hand washing with soap and water (recommended length of time is twenty seconds, or the equivalent of singing “Happy Birthday), avoiding direct contact with your eyes, mouth, or nose, and covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. In addition, the flu can spread through direct surface contact. Therefore, sanitizing areas that have come in contact with those who are sick is recommended. Treatment of the flu includes drinking adequate fluids, resting, and taking medication (ex. acetaminophen) to decrease musculoskeletal pain and fever. Unfortunately, antibiotics do not help treat the flu (which is caused by a virus); however taking proper precautions will help reduce the risk of developing the flu. May you and your loved ones have a happy, healthy, and safe new year!