Forgive the slightly snarky title. I imagine most of my Georgian readers know things like how sicknesses spread, but the people that we TLG volunteers interact with on a daily basis really seem not to.
TLG sent us an email about how we can avoid getting sick and/or infecting others during flu season. It’s basic stuff like hand-washing and keeping your distance from sick people – stuff that we’ve all noticed our Georgian friends not doing. There are a lot of close-talkers in this country, and they close-talk regardless of whether they’re sick and regardless of whether the person they are talking to is sick.
Last spring I caught a nasty cold from a little girl on a bus. I obviously can’t be sure of this, but I remember bending down to fix something on my shoe, and a little girl sneezed directly in my face at that very moment. I remember thinking “crap, I’m definitely going to get sick from that.” Sure enough, two days later I was down for the count with sneezing and coughing and fatigue.
So anyway, that sort of thing obviously can’t be avoided, unless your solution is “don’t take the bus” or “take the bus, but wear a surgical mask” – something that Georgians actually do on occasion, something that Americans were fond of during that H1N1 outbreak a few years back.
And yet we all, as TLG volunteers, hear about how we must drink chacha and avoid showering in the morning and wear house slippers, otherwise we’ll get sick in the winter. I don’t blame Georgia for this, in particular – the older generations in my family have similar folk-wisdom about how people get sick, because when they were in school they didn’t have health classes. Still, I think I might just flip out the next time someone tries to foist their bad opinion on how people get sick on me.
That’s why TLG’s email came as such a pleasant surprise for me. They actually know what they’re talking about! Hooray! So as a public service announcement, I’m going to post their email, and if you know anyone to whom this information is news, I urge you to pass it along to them.
Dear TLG Volunteers,
We hope you are all doing and feeling well,
It’s flu season and the weather is getting much colder. Here are some steps to take care of your health and your body in these wintry months!
How do I know if I have the flu?
Influenza (also known as the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by flu viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness and can occasionally lead to death. The flu is different from a cold. The flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:
· Fever or feeling feverish/chills*
· Sore throat
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Muscle or body aches
· Fatigue (tiredness)
· Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.
* It’s important to note that not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
Most people who get influenza will recover in a short while—from a few days to less than two weeks, but some people will develop complications (such as pneumonia) as a result of the flu, some of which can be life-threatening and result in death.
Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are three examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks while they have the flu, and people with chronic congestive heart failure may have worsening of this condition that is triggered by the flu.
How to avoid getting sick
Since the flu shot isn’t 100% effective, you should follow these steps to help prevent you and your family from getting sick with the flu, whether or not you got the shot:
· Wash your hands often. Remember that one of the most common ways people catch colds and the flu is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with a virus. By washing your hands often you reduce the risk of becoming ill. Make sure to wash your hands especially:
a. Before, during, and after you prepare food.
b. Before you eat, and after you use the bathroom.
c. After handling animals or animal waste.
Avoid close contact with people when you are sick. It isn’t really possible to completely avoid people who are sick, so it is better if you just avoid exposing other people to your germs when you are sick.
Avoid unnecessary contact with large crowds of people if you can. It isn’t easy to always tell when people are sick and some people are contagious even before they start to have symptoms.
Take a reusable water bottle to school, instead of using the school water fountain, which may become contaminated with germs, especially during cold and flu season.
Go to bed
As if getting enough sleep on a normal basis isn’t hard enough, you need more when you’re feeling under the weather. When you’re tired, your body isn’t fighting as hard, so getting 8 to 10 hours a night is essential
Keep your distance from people displaying symptoms like sneezing and coughing. While that strategy may seem obvious, it applies to more than just strangers and colleagues. Stay away from sick friends and family when possible.
Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
· Wash your hands often with soap and water. Every time you shake someone’s hand, wash yours, but don’t stop there. Wash them as much as possible, running lots of water over your hands will dilute any germs and send them down the drain. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
· Keep your hands away from your nose and eyes. Those are the most common places for germs to get in. Germs spread this way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
Go to the doctor but don’t take medicine without a doctor’s approval.
In case of poor health, if you want to use your insurance or visit a doctor the volunteer should call [our insurance information here.]
We hope all of you will stay healthy and won’t need any medical services!
Thank You for Making a Difference…
Now isn’t that nice?
By the way, I caught a nasty stomach virus this weekend and my whole digestive tract feels like hell on wheels right now. Plus chills and body aches! Yay!