Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Flu Preps

I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a truck this morning.  The spouse has had some sort of upper respiratory crud for the past few days which apparently I caught.  While I don't think it is the flu (the real flu tends to knock you on your ass for a week or two or three...you will know if you have the flu), it is a good reminder that everyone needs to be prepared for illness to hit out of the blue.  Here's what you need:

  • As I mentioned yesterday, having health insurance is a good thing.  It can mean the difference between visiting your doctor/ER if necessary and staying home and hoping not to die.
  • An emergency fund is also good to have.  While I don't need to worry about going to work, many people work at jobs where if they don't show up they don't get paid and if you are too sick to get out of bed, having a financial cushion can really help.
  • Soup.  Stock lots of canned soup and other simple to cook items so you will at least have something to eat even if you can barely drag yourself to the kitchen.  Mostly you will want to eat bland foods that will settle your stomach.
  • Bottled water.  When you are sick you need to push water as much as possible and stay hydrated.  Some kids will more easily drink Pedialite over water, and bland sodas like 7 Up, Ginger Ale, and sparkling water may also be more appealing than water.
  • Over the counter medications.  I swear by Thera Flu but it is also good to have decongestants, Tylenol, Ibuprofin, Nyquil if you like that, cough syrup, and other assorted over the counter meds on hand.
  • Kleenex.  I think we have went through three boxes of Kleenex in the past few days so it's good to have a few extra boxes on hand.
  • Other "feel good" items.  Carmex for chapped lips, petroleum jelly for a raw nose (from blowing so much), a thermometer (especially if you have kids), Vicks Vapo Rub (apparently in the spouse's country they use this to cure everything from a cold to rheumatic fever and everything in between; I haven't used this since I was a child so if you use this keep some in the medicine cabinet), a humidifier (some people swear by these things when they are sick...and they sometimes put Vicks in it...go figure).
  • Prescription meds.  At the point if you get really sick you may need to visit the doctor.  For general feel-like-Hell sickness, you can see your doctor and they can give you a bag of IV if you are dehydrated and anti-nausea meds to help you keep water and food down.  If you become seriously ill (literally have difficulty breathing, very high fever, severe chest or stomach pain, if you are immuno-compromised or have other serious chronic illnesses) you may need to call an ambulance; the flu can turn into pneumonia which can be life threatening.
  • If you have a big family and want to try to keep the not sick people not sick, you may want to stock paper masks, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, etc. to try to keep germs from spreading.
  • If you do need to go out or go to work when you are sick, consider wearing a mask (kind of rare in the US), not shaking hands with people or speaking to them close up (the flu spreads through the transfer of droplets from your mouth and nose), and using hand sanitizer/sanitizing wipes to kill germs on your hands and other surfaces.
  • Rest and some old fashioned remedies.  If you get the flu, aside from taking care of the symptoms, you will need to rest and let your body heal.  People also swear by old fashioned remedies--from echinachea and zinc to vitamin C and herbal teas--to help speed the healing process along.
  • For next time you may want to consider getting a flu shot early in the season.  Sometimes these work, sometimes they are pretty ineffective (like this year) but even a little protection is better than nothing.

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