Flu season is in full beast mode. And to make matters worse, this season not only started early but is more widespread and severe than normal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that as of the end of December, 41 states have experienced widespread flu activity. The same report says that there have been over 2,250 confirmed flu-related hospitalizations. And while flu-related deaths have not exceeded the epidemic threshold, there have been 18 deaths among children so far this flu season.
Keep Your Family Safe
There are several steps you can take to help protect your family from the flu.
1. Get a Flu Vaccination
It’s not too late to get a flu shot. Flu season typically runs through the end of March, and this year it could extend beyond that. Make an appointment with your family doctor to get the whole family vaccinated. Consider a nasal spray vaccination for younger children. Although flu shots and nasal sprays are not 100 percent effective, they may still provide some protection. Two years ago, my son got the flu despite having received the nasal spray. Our pediatrician told us had he not been vaccinated, his symptoms would have been far worse and likely would have lasted much longer.
2. Clean, Clean, and Then — Clean Some More
Start with the hands. Encourage and enforce proper, consistent hand-washing in your home – and out. Use warm water and soap, or an alcohol-based cleaning solution. Remind kids they need to wash up regularly at school. This is also good advice for you and your spouse. Keep your workspace at the office clean. Be especially diligent in and around public restrooms, water coolers and other places where hand-to-object content is unavoidable. And remember to keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible.
Next, give your home a good scrubbing. According to a 2009 story in the New York Times, flu viruses can live on inanimate objects such as counters and sinks up to two days, depending on humidity and temperature! Using a known antimicrobial product such as Lysol or Clorox bleach is an effective way to fight the flu virus. Focus on frequently touched objects such as toys, doorknobs, television remote controls and yes, even cell phones, iPods, and other handheld devices. And don’t forget to bring along your disinfectant wipes or spray when you’re on the road. We can only imagine what lives and breathes in many hotel rooms, buses, airplanes, etc.
3. Eat, Drink and be Merry
It’s important to continue your healthy lifestyle during flu season. Check that — it’s even MORE important during flu season. Be sure you and your family are drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water. Eat healthy, nutritious foods. Winter is a good time to cut down on eating out and staying in with healthy meals anyway. Keep up your exercise routine and help the kids stay as physically active as possible. This can be difficult in colder climates, where cabin fever can quickly take over. Make an extra effort to get outside for fresh air, even if for only a few minutes at a time.
Put Your Term Life Insurance Application on Hold
Despite your best efforts at following our tips, you may still come down with the flu bug. If so, your priority should be taking care of yourself and getting healthy again. And if you are in the process of applying for a new term life insurance policy, it’s a good idea to put your paramed exam on hold until you’re back on your feet. This is because the effects the flu has on your body can negatively influence the results of your paramed exam. And poor results often mean higher premiums. Consider these two factors.
One of the earliest body responses to the flu virus is a fever. Body temperature increases to fend off viral reproduction. Fever is usually accompanied by chills, headache, body aches and sometimes dehydration. Being dehydrated could cause abnormal urine test and blood test results.
The flu is often treated with over the counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil) and cough suppressants. An antiviral medication such as Tamiflu may also be prescribed by a physician. These medications can alter the body’s liver functions, blood pressure, and heart rate. All of these are checked on the paramed test, and abnormal results could mean you’ll be asked to pay more for your policy.
I certainly hope you and your family make through this flu season without incident. But if you find yourself sick, take the time needed before completing your paramed exam. This may be the only time you’ll hear us advise you to wait on your term life insurance!