There is nothing good about influenza. People who have experienced a bout with the flu know that it is a miserable experience that brings fever, chills and muscle pain, among other symptoms. You will know when you have a bad case of the flu when you feel like you have been hit by a truck, but you are not lying in the middle of the road.
Flu season is now upon us. That means that, at least in the United States, a lot of money is being lost as a result of the spread of the flu. Worker productivity is down as workers stay home because of sickness or to care for sick dependents, or just show up for work sick (spreading the flu to their co-workers). People have to spend money on visits to the doctor and on medicine.
Of course, this year we also have to contend with the H1N1 flu virus, more commonly known as Swine Flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the H1N1 virus was first detected in the United States in April, 2009. By early June, 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a global Swine Flu pandemic.
There are a lot of steps that we can take in an effort to protect ourselves and those around us from contracting any type of flu virus. This year, there will actually be two “flu shots” available. The first is already being offered by doctors and pharmacies and will help to protect people from contracting the various flu viruses, other than the H1N1 virus, that experts believe will be prevalent this year. In about a month, the medical community also expects an inoculation for the H1N1 virus to be available.
Flu shots typically cost $20 to $25 and we should all take the time to get both shots this year, both to protect ourselves and to protect the people who we might infect. Here are some other preventive steps that we should all be taking:
Proper Hygiene: Wash your hands with hot, soapy water often throughout the day, especially after sneezing or coughing. Also, it is best to carry an alcohol-based water-less hand cleaner so that you can clean your hands when a sink is not available. If you sneeze or cough into a tissue, make sure you promptly and properly dispose of it. In addition, try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth so that you can limit the transmission of the virus inside your body.
Stay Home if You are Sick: If you develop flu-like symptoms, stay home until you have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours. Of course, if you or your child develop extreme symptoms such as those described on the CDC website you should seek emergency medical care.
By observing proper hygiene habits and doing your best not to infect other people, we can get through this flu season causing a minimum disruption to our economy, and that should be good for all of us in the long run. If you do get the flu, you will miss work and you will feel miserable, so the best way to avoid that possible loss of income and the certain misery that you will experience is to take as many preventive steps as possible, starting with your flu shot. Getting the flu is going to cost you money, time and pain so the only way to avoid those costs is to be smart now, and perhaps to stock up on over the counter medicines while they are on sale. You may not need them, but it will be better to have them ready in case you do.
What do you think? How will you avoid the flu this year? Do you get a flu shot or do you just trust to luck? If you do get the flu, will your employer still pay you on your sick days? What do you think a week of convalescence from the flu will cost you and how are you planning for those costs?