Preventative Care for Staying Healthy During the Flu Season

Taking advantage of health and wellness programs helps to avoid illness.

DENVER, October 1, 2008 -- Most health insurance policies provide excellent preventative care programs. By staying healthy and taking advantage of health and wellness programs, you and your family not only avoid the misery of the flu, trips to the emergency room and lost time at work or school, you also have an opportunity to keep your health insurance premiums low.

Many of us get busy and don't always take advantage of annual physicals, flu vaccines, and other preventative health and wellness programs designed to keep us in tip top shape. Last year was thought to be one of the worst 'flu seasons since 2003/04. With winter around the corner, it's smart to think ahead and start making your preventative care appointments now.

Take Advantage of Healthcare Vaccinations

Each year, 10 to 20 percent of our population contracts the flu. While most adults can recover within seven to 10 days with adequate care and bed rest, complications from the flu have led to more than 200,000 hospital stays per year. This can be avoided by making an appointment with your healthcare provider to get your flu vaccine before the flu season starts.

Many people aren't aware of the serious consequences of the flu, causing an average of 36,000 deaths annually, mostly within the elderly population and with children.

According to the Center for Disease Control CDC), children not only have the highest rate of contraction of the flu, they are most often the ones to spread the flu throughout their family, school and anyone they come in contact with.

Flu vaccines have shown to reduce flu contraction within children by about half. So in February of this year, the CDC released their expanded flu vaccine recommendations to include all children ages six months to 18 years. They also announced National Influenza Vaccination Week NIVW), which takes place November 26-December 2 to increase public awareness and encourage men, women and children to get a flu vaccination this season.

Although the CDC recommends all children ages 11 to 18 to get the meningitis vaccine, it's a good idea to consult with your physician if your son or daughter is headed off to college or if you or a family member is traveling to countries with high rates of meningitis. While the disease is rare, hitting approximately 3,000 people each year, the affects are devastating, killing 10 to 12 percent and leaving survivors with brain damage, limb amputations, loss of hearing or sight, and other physical complications.

Keeping Your Immune System Strong to Avoid Illness

The key to preventing illness is to simply stay healthy, which is easier said than done in our fast past, workaholic society. While you may be struggling to keep up at work, meet deadlines and balance your personal life, remember that immune system can only handle so much before it gives out, and you'll have no choice but to spend time in bed instead of spending time enjoying your friends, family and personal time.

The following are the basics to preventative care and keeping your immune system in top shape so it can do its job of warding off illness and disease:

  • Get some sleep. Sleep deprivation has become a national crisis, so don't be a part of the statistic. Sleeping helps rebuild your cells and process toxins out of the system, and most physicians recommend seven to eight hours for the best immune function.
  • Keep stress at bay. This also takes a toll on your immune system, in addition to causing the release of the cortisol hormone that contributes to weight gain. You'll be better equipped to handle the problems each day by taking advantage of health and wellness programs that offer stress reduction classes and relaxation techniques, yoga programs and other services to keep you in balance.
  • Wash your hands. One of the best ways to prevent the spread of germs that can cause illness to yourself or others is to wash your hands often with soap and water for the amount of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice), keep your hands away from you face, and of course, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Take time to exercise. Healthcare providers have found that just 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day can boost your body's defenses while helping you to maintain physical health. Starting or ending the day with a brisk walk in the park and enjoying the outdoors is also a great way to keep down your stress levels.
  • You are what you eat. Although it has often been thought of as a home remedy, studies have actually shown that chicken soup does help to boost your immune system and when you're under the weather, contributes to getting you back on your feet. Keeping with a diet that's rich it lean proteins, whole grains, dark green vegetables and fresh fruit is good for your body year-round.

With a little planning, common sense and preventative health care techniques, you and your family can stay healthy this winter season and enjoy all the activities and holidays the colder months have to offer.

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