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HSHS hospitals offer health tips during flu season

Cold and flu season is upon us again, and HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals want you to be prepared this year.  Each year, 25 to 50 million cases of influenza are reported in the United States. The flu usually does not progress into any life-threatening diseases, but it can be more serious for some people. Vaccinations not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but it also helps prevent the spread of disease to those who are particularly most vulnerable to serious illnesses, such as infants, young children, the elderly and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems.

“Unfortunately, there is no known cure for the flu virus, but it is important to be informed about how to prevent yourself and your family from getting and spreading it,” says Dr. Erik Dickson, board-certified family medicine physician and chief physician executive for HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. “Protecting yourself against the flu protects everyone.”

The two hospitals recommend the following health tips to slow the spread of the flu this season:
• Get your yearly flu shot. The best form of influenza prevention is the flu vaccine. It is best to get the vaccine in the early autumn months, but it is also available throughout the winter.
 Wash your hands. Hand washing is one of the best practices you can adopt to keep both colds and the flu from spreading. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Using a tissue helps keep germs from spreading to yourself and others. If you don’t have a tissue or cloth, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow or upper arm.
• Stay home if you are feeling sick. If you or your kids get sick, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them. Conversely, avoid close contact with anyone who appears to be sick.
• Avoid sharing objects such as utensils, cups, bottles and telephones. If you must share, disinfect the objects before using them.
• Stay active. Regular exercise, especially vigorous exercise, will keep your body healthy.
• Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating oranges and other vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables is a great way to support your immune system. 
• Drink plenty of water. Water simultaneously flushes out your system, rids you of infected germs and rehydrates you. If you already have the flu, make sure you don't get dehydrated.
• Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is very important when it comes to assisting your body in fighting off infections. Sleep gives you more strength and helps your body get rid of the virus more quickly.

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