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Doctors warn against flu risks

Stephen Huba
| Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, 12:30 p.m.
In this Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, photo, certified pharmacy technician Peggy Gillespie fills antibiotics into a syringe for use as an I.V. push at ProMedica Toledo Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. A nasty flu season is hitting U.S. hospitals already scrambling to maintain patient care amid severe shortages of crucial sterile fluids, particularly saline solution needed to administer I.V. medicines and rehydrate patients. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
In this Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, photo, certified pharmacy technician Peggy Gillespie fills antibiotics into a syringe for use as an I.V. push at ProMedica Toledo Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. A nasty flu season is hitting U.S. hospitals already scrambling to maintain patient care amid severe shortages of crucial sterile fluids, particularly saline solution needed to administer I.V. medicines and rehydrate patients. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Flu season is in full swing, but the doctors of American Family Care , operator of urgent care franchises across the country, say there are ways to minimize the chances of catching the flu.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show high levels of flu across half the country.

The physicians advise getting the flu shot and taking a few preventive measures:

• Avoid sharing pens or using a public pen — they're covered with other people's germs. Keep your own pen handy instead.

• When using a debit card machine, get into the habit of using your knuckles instead of your fingertips so you're not transferring germs when you touch your eye or mouth.

• Grab a paper towel before picking up the gas nozzle at the gas station.

• Try to avoid shaking hands, but don't be rude. If you must do it, wash or sanitize your hands after.

• Get into the habit of wiping your cellphone with a disinfecting wipe, especially if you use it to show friends or coworkers pictures or videos.

The physicians said there are certain habits that increase the risk of catching the flu:

Working out too much: Over-exertion and not drinking enough water can weaken the immune system.

Going low carb: Ditching bread and certain fruits is at the center of several low-carb diets, but whole grains are good for building healthy bacteria in your stomach.

Doing it all: If you feel sick, stay home. If you have a fever, stay home at least 24 hours after fever is gone.

Stressing out: A 2012 study by Carnegie Mellon University found that long-term stress can weaken a person's ability to fight infection.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1280, shuba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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