EDITORIAL: Heed sound advice regarding the flu

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

We're in the grip of the "grippe" season, with the annual influx of influenza reaching farther and deeper than normal this year. And although local officials told The Herald this week that flu season has likely peaked, it doesn't mean we can let our guards down.

For the susceptible and the elderly, that begins with a flu shot. Even though the county health department's supply of the vaccine has been exhausted, many local pharmacies and physicians' offices do have availability. Officials say it's not too late in the season to get a shot.

And if you choose not to get a flu shot, or you've already had one? The best advice is to use good, common-sense approaches to staying well. A few weeks ago, in an interview with The Herald, local physician Dr. Robert Patterson provided sound advice regarding the flu. Among his tips:

* eating an appropriate, healthy diet. Stay away from foods like simple sugars, but boost your immunity with vitamins C and D, antioxidants, and herbal remedies such as echinacea, garlic and elderberry.

* washing your hands, especially when you're out in public places, with hot water and soap. When traveling, carry alcohol towelettes with you.

* avoiding contact with people who have respiratory illnesses. Airborne droplets from sneezes and coughs are what spread the influenza virus from person to person.

* minimizing the spread of germs by avoiding touching your hands to your face or your eyes.

* get lots of rest and drink plenty of fluids. Being hydrated helps eliminate toxins and metabolic wastes from your system.

Medical experts stress that if you feel like you need treatment, check with your physician. Don't try to contain it on your own. It is important to start combating the flu within the first 48 hours of symptoms with proper medical attention; the effectiveness of medication declines as the illness builds.

Heed this good advice. It'll help keep you well, as well as those around you.