It's Flu Season! Here's What You Need to Know
It’s the beginning of flu season, meaning that many of us are about to spend several months at a higher risk than usual, of getting sick. Everyone’s had the flu before, and while some years go by just fine, others bring a week or two of miserable illness.
It’s always a good idea to take whatever precautions you can to avoid catching the flu this year, especially if you’re in a high-risk occupation like service work, nursing, or teaching. Here are some things that you should know about getting ready for flu season. If all else fails, and you do get sick, you can try bone broth for the flu to soothe sore throats and provide essential nutrients.
You Should Probably Get a Flu Shot
Flu shots aren’t just for children, the elderly, and immunocompromised patients. They’re recommended by the CDC for everyone over the age of six months. New versions of flu vaccines are developed twice a year, because viruses are capable of mutating incredibly quickly by human standards. Their effectiveness can vary from year to year, but they’re still the best line of defense against influenza.
Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at heightened risk of complications from the flu, including:
- Children under 5
- Adults over 65
- Pregnant women
- Women within 2 weeks postpartum
- Residents of long term care facilities
- American Indians and Alaskan Natives (who have higher risk)
- People with weakened immune systems
- People with other heart, lung, blood, endocrine, or metabolic disorders
If you don’t fit these criteria, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still get a flu shot. Only during shortages are there concerns about prioritizing the people at highest risk. Speak with your doctor about getting one this season.
Flu Shots Won’t Give You the Flu
Contrary to a popular misconception, an influenza vaccine cannot give you the flu. The flu vaccine contains either inactivated and non-infectious flu viruses, or in the case of recombinant vaccines, no viruses at all.
However, you may potentially experience minor low grade symptoms from the shot. This can include soreness, redness, or tenderness at the injection site. You can also experience headaches, muscle aches, or a low-grade fever.
Take Steps to Avoid Getting Sick
To avoid catching the flu from your co-workers, or to prevent yourself from spreading it if you’re sick, you should avoid contact with sick people. In today’s productivity-obsessed workplaces, it’s sometimes frowned upon to take sick days. But if one person comes in sick, the whole office can get sick. Staying home is just common sense.
You should also wash your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose too often. You never know where and when you’ll inadvertently pick up the flu virus.
Bone Broth for the Flu: A Soothing Broth that Might Strengthen Your Immune System
Chicken noodle soup is a timeless staple when you’re sick with the flu. Incorporating bone broth, whether it’s homemade or store-bought, may help you with your recovery. Bone broth is a stock made by boiling bones and other ingredients until the bones themselves crumble apart completely into the stock. Drinking bone broth, especially broth from chicken bones, may have some modest health benefits that could speed up your healing process.
Bone broth contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, from the broken down bones, cartilage, and tendons. The gelatin promotes healthy digestion by attracting and holding liquids, like digestive juices.
There’s at least some evidence that chicken bone broth’s content of cysteine, an amino acid, may help with respiratory congestion. It’s also thought that bone broth may help inhibit viral infections and fight inflammation.
There’s also the fact that bone broth makes a rich, savory stock that’s vastly superior to store-bought chicken or beef broth. Cooking with bone broth adds a distinctive flavor and richness to soups, especially if it’s homemade.
The flu is something that most people would rather avoid. But if you do get sick, bone broth for the flu can be a helpful adjunct therapy and dietary supplement as you rest and recover.