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What is going on with the flu season this year?

Image credit: Endeavor Health

As the weather gets colder, it seems like students get sicker. Everyone seems to be under the weather or at a point of recovery, then catching something else a week or so later. Every year, around December to February, schools notice a rise in absences. This month, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases, causing a lot of students to miss out on their learning; not just for a day or two, but for a little over a week. This can affect grades and in-class ability to complete assignments, which is a serious problem. Other illnesses like colds and flu have also hit students and teachers with remarkable force this year.

According to the CDC, in this season alone, 24 to 44 million people have had the flu, and anywhere from 11-20 million people have had to visit a doctor. The main reason why flu season seems to be extra bad this year is because illnesses have been lingering. Last year, the number of people getting sick had dropped by January. Now that February is almost over, it’s logical to be concerned about getting better and staying better. Here are some things we can all do to prevent the spread of illness, and to end flu season quickly this year.

1. Stay at home when sick.

Although it’s a hassle to miss school and then make up assignments later, it’s very important to give your body a chance to recover while ill. Not only does this boost recovery time, but it also causes your immune system to get stronger to protect your body from future illnesses. According to the CDC, staying at home can prevent the spread of infection by up to 60%.

2. Cover your cough.

Covering your mouth with your elbow, a tissue, and a mask can be very important to prevent others from getting sick. Diseases like colds, the flu, and COVID-19 are commonly passed from person to person by droplets when people cough or sneeze, and covering your mouth can greatly reduce the chance of infection.

3. Wash your hands.

As the flu virus can stay on surfaces for up to 3 days, which can then be spread to the mouth or nose through physical contact. While washing your hands with soap and water at a sink for 20 seconds is most effective at reducing this risk, hand sanitizer can also work in a pinch.

4. Rest well.

Getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night is a very important thing to do, even when healthy. Doing so can help your immune system function better and reduce symptoms, and can also help prevent infection before it occurs.

5. Have healthy habits.

Finally, it’s critical that you go out of your way to practice common things that we’ve heard about a million times before. Wash hands before eating food or after being in contact with someone who is sick and after using the bathroom. Drink an adequate amount of water and try to include more fruit and vegetables in your diet. By exercising these simple habits, we can prevent ourselves and others from getting sick. 

Although flu season is always rough, it’s good to remember that there are precautions we can take to reduce the chances of becoming ill. Feel better soon!

Sources for further research:
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