Thursday, September 19, 2013

Flu season is already on its way. Be prepared!

It seems like we were just sweating it out in the hot St. Louis summer, but flu season is just around the corner. In preparation for that, we’d like to shine a light on the flu and how you can stay a step ahead of it this fall and winter.

So what exactly is the flu? According to the National Institute of Health, influenza (AKA the flu) is “a respiratory infection caused by a number of viruses [that] pass through the air and enter your body through your nose or mouth.” Symptoms of the flu include: body or muscle aches, chills, cough, fever, headache, and sore throat. The NIH adds that the flu almost never includes an upset stomach. If you can’t tell if you’ve got the flu or a common cold, check out this handy comparison from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. However, it’s always best to check with your doctor if you’re not sure. The National Library of Medicine has some good guides for how to talk to your doctor about the flu, including what you need to ask to get the best treatment. Here’s the guide for adults, and here’s another one for kids.
Photo copyright Blake Patterson, 2010.     
Used under Creative Commons.

The best ways to keep from getting the flu? Again, the NIH: “get a yearly flu vaccine. Good hygiene, including hand washing, can also help.” In an article released last week, the Centers for Disease Control notes that, after receiving a flu shot, it takes up to two weeks for your body to develop an immune response. It’s also important to get a flu shot each year, as the disease changes constantly and each year presents different virus strains. If you’re wondering where you can get a vaccine, the CDC has a cool online tool to help you find locations at

If you’d like a bit more information, SLPL has some books focusing on the flu, including:
  • 100 Questions & Answers About Influenza by Delthia Ricks
  • The Germ Freak’s Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu: Guerilla Tactics to Keep Yourself Healthy at Home, at Work, and in the World by Allison Janse and Charles Gerba
  • The Good Doctor’s Guide to Colds and Flu by Neil Schachter

For kids, we have:
  • Influenza and Other Viruses by Judy Monroe
  • Investigating Influenza and Bird Flu: Real Facts for Real Life by Evelyn B. Kelly and Claire Wilson
  • Let’s Talk About Having the Flu by Elizabeth Weitzman

You can find each of these books and more (including several on the history of the flu) on our catalog at Just search for “influenza.” Stay healthy this flu season!

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