Get the Kleenex ready, folks. Flu season arrived earlier than usual this winter and has been particularly nasty, causing an unusually high number of hospitalizations and deaths.
Boston, Mass. declared a public health emergency as their death toll rose to 18, according to a Jan. 10 Associated Press article. In Minnesota, the death toll has topped 60 and more than 470 people have been hospitalized, according to a Jan. 20 article by the Pierce County Herald. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reports that Kansas is among the hardest hit states in the country.
Although many people choose to get immunized—in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about one third of the nation had gotten their flu shots by December—many do not. For example, I usually do not get a flu shot because I have a mild egg allergy. There are egg-free shots available, but sometimes they are hard to find, so I usually don’t bother. However, the flu was so bad this year that I decided a couple weeks ago to go to the Riley County Health Department and get one. To my surprise, egg allergies are no longer an issue for me.
The nurse at the Health Department informed me that the CDC changed their policy just this year. Egg allergies are not an issue unless you have a really severe reaction, such as hives or difficulty breathing. If you do not have a severe allergy, the regular shot is perfectly safe. Indeed, I had no reaction to the shot at all. For those who have a severe reaction to eggs, the egg-free version is still available and recommended.
Flu shots are available at the Health Department for $27. You can also go to Lafene Health Center and get them for $15 with your student ID. If, for some reason, you cannot make it to either of those places, or they run out of shots, pretty much any pharmacy in town can supply you with the shot.
In spite of the availability of the flu shot, however, many people do not get vaccinated and fall ill. Winter is also notorious for being cold season, and a nasty cold can make you every bit as miserable as the flu.
If you do fall ill while slogging through this winter’s cold and flu season, and too much cold medicine is making you groggy, there are a number of home remedies that can make you more comfortable and functional.
There have been many studies on the health benefits of honey, including its use to battle a cold or flu. Women’s Health Magazine cited a study conducted by Penn State College of Medicine which found that honey was more effective at soothing coughs than many over-the-counter cough suppressants. Just a spoonful in a mug of hot tea will soothe a sore throat. If you need something a little more potent, try…
2. Hot toddy
The perfect hot toddy is easy to make: hot tea, one spoonful of honey, a shot of whiskey and a squeeze of lemon. You don’t drink these to get drunk; you just need one. I find that it works wonders whenever I have a cold that is keeping me up at night.
3. Hot shower
A number of sources recommend taking a hot shower to breathe easier, including WebMD, Women’s Health Magazine and the NY Daily News.
4. Chicken soup
Everyone has heard that chicken soup is the best thing to eat when you have a cold or the flu, but is that really true? As it turns out, yes. Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center put “nature’s penicillin” to the test in a lab and found that it contains anti-inflammatory properties and other substances that can help you feel better when you’re sick. Thanks, mom!
Karen Sarita Ingram is a senior in English. Please send comments to [email protected]