Flu shots may be more important than seat-belts, considering that the flu kills more than auto accidents!
Flu shots might not seem all that important, especially if you think you, or someone you know "had the flu" in the past few years, when in fact they only had a cold and NOT the flu. Many colds in winter are called "flu", which hospitalized 900,000 in 2017-18 season, and killed over 80,000.
If you aren't getting vaccinated, here's why you should go to the doctor immediately if you think you've got the flu!
Yup… that's a lot worse than getting a cold. This year, they can test for flu within 30 minutes, and IF you come within the first 24-48 hours, there are new drugs which can greatly reduce the symptoms. This can save you weeks of misery and a lot of money.
DON'T get that flu shot -- at least not yet!
Every year starting as early as August, doctors will start "bugging you" :) about getting a flu shot, NOW. However, that is clearly NOT the best advice. Why?? Vaccinations wear off after about 4-5 months. So, if you start in August, by the time the prime season hits in January, you will not be nearly as protected as you could. The following chart shows when the flu is at its worst:
"Out of all outpatient visits to U.S. health providers, the percentage attributed to influenza-like illness (ILI) jumped from a baseline level of around 2% at the start of December 2017 (week 48) to nearly 6% by the end of the year (week 52). As of February 2, the percentage had climbed to 7.1%, approaching the peak of 7.7% that occurred in the 2009 pandemic. The hospitalization rate has now surpassed the peak from 2014-15, the most severe flu season of recent years. Image credit: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
The CDC and Medscape recommend to get it before the end of October. It's my opinion, you should wait a few weeks longer, even though it takes 10-14 days to become fully effective. I generally wait until mid to late November, as the earliest date to get my shot. If you are flying out for Thanksgiving this year, you might get it a week or two before you fly, which is particularly risky to get the flu.
Best protection for the flu is NOT obvious--"just add water"!
If you'd really like to prevent flu this season however, vaccination is not the only, or best tool--just add a little humidity to prevent the misery! Catching the flu or even a cold is virtually impossible, without first drying out your sinuses first. Why does the flu only come in winter and not summer?? It isn't the cold--it is just the winter's lack of moisture in your nose. It is worse, If you live in the humid tropics and travel out west or up north in the winter. Even just flying around the tropics will dry you out, more than you can imagine!
Ever wonder why flying is so risky to getting sick? There are two separate, but related reasons:
It's COLD out there.. And VERY dry where you are.. Like,"Driest Desert" dry..
While you are happily getting a welcome dose of sunshine while everyone else down there is getting wet, don't feel too smug. How's YOUR air? Nice..? Comfortable..? And dry..? Yes, VERY dry..!!
How dry?? Ever wonder why the skies are always clear, once you reach over 20,000 feet? It's because there are few clouds, and even if you are in a thunderstorm at altitude, bring that air into the cabin and you will get NO moisture for your nose.
Why? Outside your window at altitude, even in the clouds, at 25,000-35,000 feet, the temperature is between -35-70F. That's right--VERY cold. Now, warm that air up a "little bit", like 115-150F warmer, and then vent some of that air into the cabin. Even if that was "wet thunderstorm air", warm it that much, and it almost instantly will dry out your nose. (To be fair, the pilot adds some moisture as they warm it, and passengers add more moisture). Still, a 12 hour flight will dry anyone out.
Super dry air also preserves all those viruses, so whatever you touch has dormant viruses.
The connecting flight's passengers before you, left their viruses on your armrests, table, overhead.. everywhere. Normally these viruses would have died, but now they are literally freeze dried for your enjoyment. Don't touch! And certainly don't touch your nose or eyes. All those viruses will easily infect you, if your sinuses are already dried out.
Visiting Vegas in a cold winter will also "get you".
When it is 20F outside in Las Vegas, that warmed air will only have twice as much moisture as the airline that brought you--like maybe 3% instead of 1%. You won't be quite so tempted to touch everything, since whenever you get close, you can draw a 5" bright blue spark from your fingers.
There's hope for you in Vegas, without hitting the jackpot.. (Not so easy while flying..) Use a wet towel..
You don't have to be dry in Vegas, or order 5 drinks to stay moist. Sure, during the day you will dry out. But here's how to avoid mummifying your nose, at least at night.
If you live in a humid area like Florida, and you ever visit Las Vegas for a week, you will get nosebleeds until your system adapts to the lower humidity. In summer, when the locals are likely complaining about the monsoons providing a swamp-like 20-50% RH indoors with AC, you won't be too bad off, unless you spend a lot of time outside, (in summer you still get very low RH outside).
Winter is the reverse. Stay indoors when it's cold in your warm hotel, you'll often see 5-10% humidity, at most. This will prove just how dry, and also prevent most of the symptoms:
Take a large fluffy bath towel, and soak it. Carry that 10 pound towel over to the AC, and put in over the air vents. Arrange it in a waffle configuration, so the air still circulates under the baffles you formed. The towel will hold over a gallon of water. By morning, it will be bone dry on a cold night. Pour another pitcher of water on it, and stay much more comfortable, day or the next night.
Much of the research for this article came from this great article, published on Weather Underground:
"Flu Weather: It's Not the Cold, It's the Humidity by Bob Henson · February 9, 2018"
One of the more striking parts of this article is the research of how important humidity is to our health:
"Time for a humidifier?
Last year, Alan Barreca moved from Tulane University, located in notoriously humid New Orleans, to UCLA, just in time to experience an unusually dry L.A. winter. Barreca’s home and office are both stocked with humidifiers, and he’s surprised that the health benefits of humidification get little notice.
“We don’t have the airtight evidence that a humidifier reduces your chance of getting sick, but we know that dryness is bad for you,” Barreca told me. Low relative humidity can dry out your nasal passages, making you more vulnerable to the flu virus and other bugs. Dehydration can also stress your cardiovascular system, noted Barreca. And there’s the greater likelihood that the flu virus will survive its trek from one person to another. Very high humidity can be a problem in itself, raising the risk of mold and other issues, but a midrange relative humidity of around 40% to 60% appears to be a sweet spot for overall health. "
As you can see, the easiest method to avoid this in Vegas, or especially important if you've moved from the tropics to a cold climate--Buy a humidifier HERE. They are relatively cheap and effective. You can even have them shipped to your hotel, before you arrive. Just go to our Amazon affiliate link that supports this newsletter and website. (We collect a fee when you use this to buy your humidifier, or ANYTHING ELSE that you buy on Amazon, when you first go to our website and then click on the Amazon link. Amazon won't allow us to add a direct affiliate link to this email, without first going to our website.)
Stay healthy this year!!
STRANGE other advice…
PS --- One more STRANGE advice for preventing the flu…. If you aren't Kosher and you love to cook pork ribs, you can GET the FLU from that pig!! It turns out, according to Medscape that advises most doctors, that pigs also get the flu, and you can get infected, just by preparing uncooked pork!