Korin Miller

5 Thanksgiving Food Safety Mistakes That Can Make You Seriously Sick

5 Thanksgiving Food Safety Mistakes That Can Make You Seriously Sick

If there’s only one cutting board around, it’s critical to clean and sanitize it in between uses “especially if you are going to use them for a raw product followed by a food that will not be cooked,” Dr. Shumaker says. Scrub your board down with plenty of soap and water to help keep things clean, Bruce Ruck, PharmD, the managing director of the NJ Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells SELF. If you need to have a multipurpose board, reach for a plastic option instead of wood, since plastic boards are nonporous and won’t absorb bacteria into tiny cracks as easily. “Knives have to be washed well too,” Dr. Ruck adds.Don’t forget to keep tabs on how long food sits out.You might be tempted to display your beautiful spread of food before the actual eating takes place, but don’t leave it out too long. The USDA recommends that you refrigerate all perishable foods that have been sitting at room temperature within two hours of being cooked. After two hours, your food may enter the “danger zone,” which ranges between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In that zone, harmful bacteria can quickly multiply. Dr. Ruck suggests wrapping food up and storing it in the fridge or a warming container like a slow cooker or chafing dish once it’s prepared to keep it at the appropriate temperature.As for leftovers? If you can wrap them up and refrigerate them within two hours of the food being prepared and left out, you should be good to go. …and don’t let your prepared dish languish in the car!When you’re traveling for Thanksgiving, don’t neglect any food you’re bringing with you. After all, it’s also subject to that two-hour rule—two hours from the time you prepared it, not two hours since you arrived. Helpful tip, per the USDA: Transport hot foods in insulated containers to keep them at a temperature of 140 degrees or higher. For cold foods, put them in a cooler with ice or gel packs to keep them at or below 40 degrees. Keep your hands (and everyone else’s) out of the bread basket.It’s normal to have a charcuterie plate, chips and dip, or a bread basket out for people to serve themselves. To keep things as clean as possible, put out spoons or tongs to make it easy for people to dole out snacks or sides without actually putting their hands all over it. “That’s a good practice in general,” Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, tells SELF. “Who knows where people’s hands have been and how good their hand hygiene is?”Dr. Russo says that the biggest concern in this kind of situation is a bug like norovirus, one of the most common pathogens that can trigger the stomach flu (aka gastroenteritis) or food poisoning, both of which cause relentless vomiting and diarrhea.And norovirus is commonly transmitted via contaminated food or liquids. “It’s extraordinarily infectious,” Dr. Russo stresses, noting that norovirus spreads quickly and easily when an infected person doesn’t wash their hands, including after using the bathroom, and makes direct contact with other people or surfaces other people may touch. Bottom line: How you handle your food matters! You shouldn’t let the stress of potential foodborne illness get in the way of enjoying your meal, but keeping these tips in mind can help you avoid feeling terrible later. And, of course, this isn’t a totally exhaustive list: Check out other food safety tips you should keep in mind year-round here.Related: 

6 People With MS Share How They Manage Symptoms During the Holidays

6 People With MS Share How They Manage Symptoms During the Holidays

So, she says she’s learned little hacks to help her feel a bit more comfortable when she’s out and about. “Often one of the first things I do when I arrive at an event, party, or gathering, is find the seats,” she says. “That way, if I start feeling tired, I know right where to go and can buy myself more time at the gathering.”“I space things out.”Verena Frydberg, 43, breaks things up to make them feel a bit less taxing. “I schedule rest periods between my activities,” she tells SELF. “For example, if I’m going to cook, I get my groceries delivered. I choose ingredients that are already prepped, like chopped onions and chicken that’s pounded thin or cut a certain way. This helps me minimize my time in the kitchen.”Frydberg also gets ready differently than she would have in the past. That means showering the night before and even resting pre-event in the outfit she plans to wear since getting dressed can be a “tiring task” for her.“I learned this about myself years ago,” Frydberg says. “I would spend all day prepping to entertain and leave getting myself ready to the end when I was too exhausted. Then I’d feel uncomfortable about how I looked the whole time we had guests. This was not good in my book, so I figured out how to switch it up.”“I’m incredibly honest.”Landis says she’s very open with loved ones about how she’s feeling. “I’ll say to them, ‘This is what triggers me, and sometimes I don’t know why I’m not feeling well,’” she says. “I’ll be incredibly honest and say, ‘If I cancel on you, it’s not that I don’t love you.’”But she’s still careful not to use MS as a reason to just cancel on people. “I don’t want to use my MS as an excuse or a crutch,” she says.Martin says she’s also learned to be open about what she’s going through—and to learn the power of the word “no.” “I used to hide my symptoms and try to pretend that I was fine and just endure,” she says. “But I always ended up paying for it later and probably missed out on more because of it.” Now, she says no when she’s really not feeling up for something, which allows her to show up fully at other times.“I stay home when I really need to.”Elizabeth Giardina, 45, tells SELF that she also really struggles with fatigue when she has MS flares. “It is almost like everything is heavier and more [tiring], so walking feels like more of an effort,” she explains. “I also have a hard time with cognitive abilities. It sometimes feels like I am running in circles because my brain has a hard time focusing on completing what it set out to do.”Stress typically leads to flares for her, so she’s learned to take a step back during the holidays. She used to feel like she “had to do everything” during this season. “I live a bit further than most of my family so I would often be cooking huge meals and then transporting them to another family member’s home,” Giardina explains. “It got to the point where I realized I was just taking on too much.” Now, she gives herself some wiggle room. “I still cook but try to take at least a few of the days around the holidays to stay home. It is too hard on my body to be doing the cooking and the traveling.”“I put myself first.”It can be hard, but Landis says that “putting yourself first is the most important thing” when it comes to getting through the holidays as someone who lives with MS. “At the end of the day, it’s your body that’s going to have to deal with the consequences,” she says. She recommends picking up the phone and calling someone if you need to skip a gathering, so you can have a verbal conversation. “If they don’t understand, then they weren’t really a good person in your life anyway,” she says.Michelle Tolson, 49, also believes in the power of being firm with your boundaries. “There are times that I push through the fatigue and there are times that I know I can’t do it,” she tells SELF. “I am always honest with my friends about how I am feeling. Having a solid support system is so important when living with a silent and progressive disease like MS.”Related:

Why Christina Applegate Went Barefoot During Her Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony

Why Christina Applegate Went Barefoot During Her Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony

This isn’t the first time Applegate has talked candidly about her MS symptoms. In a recent interview with The New York Times, the Dead to Me actor shared what it was like to grapple with the neurological condition on set. She told the publication that she felt off-balance while filming a dance scene, and then later had trouble playing tennis. Eventually, she couldn’t ignore the numbness and tingling she felt in her extremities. Sometimes, she had to use a wheelchair while filming and, at one point, a crew member had to physically hold up her legs so she could stand during certain scenes.These are all “very common” symptoms of MS and balance issues are often a “big problem” for people living with the condition, Dr. Jacobs says. “It can lead to a risk for falls, and it’s something that we are very concerned about.”“MS can hit the systems that help you feel and move,” Amit Sachdev, MD, the director of the division of neuromuscular medicine at Michigan State University, tells SELF. “Balance requires feeling the position of the body and adjusting the position. When both feeling and moving are damaged, balance can suffer.”Because of this, Dr. Jacobs says she will often recommend physical and occupational therapy for her MS patients. “Both can offer a lot in terms of your physical stance,” she explains. As for foot pain, Dr. Jacobs says MS can impact sensory pathways in the body, which can trigger a “misinterpretation of sensations.” That can lead to burning and pins-and-needles sensations or even itchiness.While going barefoot can help temporarily alleviate certain symptoms, it’s not always practical. That’s why Dr. Jacobs says she urges people with MS to get “comfortable shoes with a good foundation,” making sure to avoid things like “very high heels” when possible. Customized orthotics can also be helpful for added support and potential pain relief, Suhayl Dhib-Jalbut, MD, the chair of the department of neurology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells SELF.Outside of wearing supportive footwear, using compression socks, and trying various forms of physical therapy, Dr. Jacobs says practicing yoga is also “tremendously helpful for balance.”Applegate later shared on Twitter that she was “incredibly honored” to receive her star. During her speech, she said the support of her loved ones, especially her daughter, has been vital since her diagnosis. “I am blessed every day that I get to wake up and take you to your school,” she said tearfully. “You are my everything. Thank you for standing beside me through all of this.”Related:

13 RSV Symptoms in Babies All Caregivers Should Be Aware of Right Now

13 RSV Symptoms in Babies All Caregivers Should Be Aware of Right Now

Thanks to the pandemic, you’re probably a lot more aware of infectious diseases than you ever thought you would be. We wouldn’t be surprised if you can recite the symptoms of COVID-19 in your sleep and know all about the importance of getting your annual flu shot (especially this year). But there’s another virus that’s making headlines right now that many people aren’t as well-versed in. It’s called respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, and cases are currently soaring in the US, particularly in babies and young children.According to surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), RSV cases have been rising sharply since October. Public health experts are warning about the potential impact on kids, as the virus is overwhelming many hospitals and rapidly filling pediatric ICU beds. If you have kids—and an infant, in particular—here’s what you need to know about RSV symptoms in babies, plus when to seek medical care for a sick child.First, a little background on RSV.RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes coldlike symptoms, according to the CDC. In fact, doctors usually can’t tell just from your symptoms if you have RSV or another virus that causes the common cold, Danelle Fisher, MD, the chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF.Most people recover just fine (in about a week or two) when they’re sick with RSV. However, the symptoms can potentially become serious for infants and other young children, as well as older adults and those with severely weakened immune systems. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis, inflammation of the small airways in the lungs, and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, in kids under the age of one in the US, per the CDC.“Because children less than two years of age have smaller lower airways, the inflammation, which results in mucus production, can occlude those small lower airways, leading to labored breathing and sometimes lower oxygen levels,” Rosemary Olivero, MD, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, tells SELF. Kids two and older have larger lower airways, though, and “tend to have less respiratory difficulty with RSV infections,” even if their lower airways do get inflamed, Dr. Olivero says.Back to topHow does RSV spread to babies?It’s important to get this out of the way: Almost all children get RSV at least once before they’re two years old, per the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Infants usually get RSV from parents, other caregivers, or close family members, although they can also pick it up when they’re out in public too, John C. Brancato, MD, division head of emergency medicine at Connecticut Children’s, tells SELF.The virus spreads in a few ways, according to the CDC:When an infected person coughs or sneezes, which can circulate virus-laden droplets that then make contact with a child’s eyes, nose, or mouthWhen a person touches a surface that has the virus on it (like a doorknob or toy) and then touches a child’s face before washing their handsWhen a child has direct contact with the virus, like getting a hug or kiss from someone who is infected with RSV

What the CDC’s New Opioid Guidelines Mean for Your Pain Management

What the CDC’s New Opioid Guidelines Mean for Your Pain Management

Opioids are a powerful, pain-relieving class of drugs—but they’re controversial for a reason. Historically, “street opioids” like heroin have been largely responsible for mounting opioid overdose deaths, but recent data show that prescription opioids, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, also play a role in this crisis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That’s a big reason why the agency’s influential prescribing guidelines for these painkillers were rather strict. Those recommendations, originally released in 2016, were just updated to better reflect the need for individualized, compassionate care.The CDC issued new opioid prescribing guidelines for health care providers in early November; specifically, the recommendations detail when opioids should be considered for “appropriate pain treatment, with careful consideration of the benefits and risks.”The agency’s 2016 guidelines, a well-intentioned step in combatting the opioid epidemic, were criticized by many experts. Doctors, insurance companies, and pharmacies sometimes didn’t interpret the previous guidelines correctly. As an “unintended effect,” many people suffered from “untreated and undertreated pain, serious withdrawal symptoms, worsening pain outcomes, psychological distress, overdose, and suicide ideation and behavior,” the CDC notes.Misinterpretations of the 2016 guidelines “often created a barrier for people who could have benefitted from opioid medications,” Jamie Alan, PharmD, PhD, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells SELF. Though “the rationale for stricter guidelines was clear,” she says, it also “created a culture of fear, where physicians were afraid to consider and/or prescribe opioids for patients.”O. Trent Hall, DO, an addiction medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, agrees. He tells SELF that the previous guidelines were “widely misunderstood and misapplied,” noting that government regulators and insurance companies were “desperate to turn the tide in the opioid overdose crisis.” The hope, he explains, was that by cutting back on opioid prescriptions, the number of deaths from accidental overdoses would drop. Unfortunately, largely due to the introduction of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid, accidental drug overdose deaths increased from 63,000 in 2016 to 108,000 in 2021, Dr. Hall says.The new prescribing guidelines open doors for more personalized pain management.The CDC’s new recommendations will be widely considered by health care providers—but they’re not set in stone policies, laws, or, as the CDC puts it, “inflexible standards of care.”To be clear, opioids should not be a first-line treatment for pain in many cases—but the updated guidance will, hopefully, pave the path toward individualized treatment and better quality of care for people who have exhausted other pain relief options. Specifically, the guidance “emphasizes the importance of person-centered care, and the provider and patient developing a plan that adequately addresses pain,” Sarah Cercone Heavey, PhD, MPH, a clinical assistant professor at the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions, tells SELF.When appropriate, the CDC says opioids may be prescribed at the lowest effective dosage as needed; the new guidelines no longer specify prescription dosage or duration limits but still warn against prescribing above a threshold in which the risks may outweigh the benefits—basically, it’s up to health care providers to map out what’s best for their patients.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

How to Talk to Your Kids About Your Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis

Overall, Dr. Santos says, it’s crucial to find a time when you can focus on your child to have this conversation—meaning, not when you could be distracted by a work call or when their soccer practice starts in five minutes—and to try to plan the conversation for a time when you think you’ll have the energy for it.Tell them the truth about what MS is and isn’t.“Honesty is the best policy,” Dr. Banwell says, which means getting your child’s biggest fear out of the way upfront: Tell them very clearly that you’re not dying. After that, be honest about what this diagnosis means for you and how your health and daily functioning may change. “You can say that you might have trouble with balance and issues walking in the future,” Dr. Banwell says. Or you can take a page from Benjamin and say that you might get messy while trying to eat spaghetti to try to make the experience relatable.For teenagers and older kids, “really sit down and talk to them about what MS is and isn’t,” Dr. Banwell suggests. That includes having an honest conversation about what a relapse is—a flare-up of symptoms—and what you’ve decided to do about treatment.If your child asks you a question, Dr. Banwell recommends that you’re open with your answer, even if it’s “I don’t know.” That may include some sensitive topics, like saying there’s a chance you may need a wheelchair in the future, if they ask. “You can say, ‘I’ll tell you what I’ve been told and what I know. We’ll learn together,’” Dr. Banwell says.Don’t feel like you need to tell them everything.Many adults prefer to learn as much as they can about a disease when they or a family member are faced with it, Dr. Banwell says. In her experience, children and teenagers often do not, she says, noting that many of her teenage patients say that they don’t necessarily want to know everything about their illness.“It’s important to say that this is a serious diagnosis and talk about what a relapse might be—relapses are what children will see in the coming years,” Dr. Banwell says. “But with respect to future neurodegenerative potential, it’s not necessarily the first thing you need to talk about.”And, again, don’t feel like you need to have all the answers. “It’s okay to say you don’t know the answer to something,” Dr. Santos says. “It’s better to say ‘I don’t know’ than to answer wrong.”Address what this might mean for them.It’s normal to wonder if you’ll develop a health condition that a family member has. Though the risk of developing MS is higher for siblings or children of a person with the condition than it is for the general population, it’s still fairly low. “If a parent has MS, the lifetime risk of their child developing MS is less than 5%,” Dr. Banwell says. “Meaning, there is over a 95% chance they won’t be affected.” She says that sometimes it’s helpful to phrase it in this more positive way instead: “I have this condition, but there is a 95% chance you’ll live without it.”Share your feelings about your diagnosis (if you want to).You’re probably feeling overwhelmed with the news of your diagnosis, and it’s okay to share that with your child—especially if they’re older or mature enough to process what that means. “You can say, ‘I’m scared, I’m upset,’” Dr. Banwell says. What you don’t necessarily need to do is say, “Here’s everything that can happen to me,” she says. That can be overwhelming. “Not all kids have the emotional bandwidth to handle that,” Dr. Banwell points out.

I Was Diagnosed With MS at 20—After My Doctor Completely Dismissed My First Symptom

I Was Diagnosed With MS at 20—After My Doctor Completely Dismissed My First Symptom

Tenley Diaz, 31, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2012 when she was 20 years old. MS is a neurodegenerative disease that causes the immune system to attack myelin, the protective coating that covers the nerve fibers. The ensuing inflammation and damage interrupt communication between your brain and the rest of your body, setting off a wide array of potential symptoms like muscle numbness and weakness, tremors and coordination problems, blurry vision, slurred speech, and heavy fatigue, among others.It was a diagnosis Diaz didn’t see coming. Her first doctor dismissed her initial symptoms, and it took a few tries to find a specialist she trusted. But she found the care she needed—and trusted her intuition that something just wasn’t right. Here’s her story, as told to health writer Korin Miller.—I was a college student just shy of my 21st birthday when my left big toe went numb. I was enrolled in a really competitive major, so I mostly ignored it for a few days. But then I started noticing another unusual symptom.At first, I thought I had a random patch of dry skin on my left thigh—until I eventually realized what was actually happening: I wasn’t feeling my hand touching my skin at all. This sparked a week-long adventure of me half-thinking that I was losing my mind.I finally decided to see a general practitioner about this sudden numbness developing in my body. His response: My pants were too tight. I was advised to take some ibuprofen and wear sweatpants for a few days because he believed I had a pinched nerve—again, allegedly from my too-tight pants. I did not receive this very well, as you can imagine. (My pants were definitely not tight enough to pinch a nerve!)The next day, things got worse. I went numb from the waist down and every step that I took caused a pins-and-needles sensation in my feet. I called an internist I had seen for migraine headaches in the past—there was no way I was going back to the tight-pants doctor—and got an appointment scheduled ASAP. My internist listened to my history and something seemed to click: “I think you have MS. I’m sending you downstairs for an MRI right now,” he said, and so I immediately went in for imaging.Sure enough, thinking back to my symptoms now, the skin I couldn’t feel on my thigh wasn’t dry or “dead”—my brain just wasn’t processing touch in that spot, because my test results were consistent with MS.After my testing, finding the right specialist took some effort.I took a few days off from school to process everything and to find a neurologist who could confirm the diagnosis and help guide my treatment. Luckily, most of my professors were very supportive and helped me rearrange testing and homework due dates to accommodate the few days I took off. (All except one, who ultimately needed a strongly-worded email to take me seriously and let me make up the work I missed.)

‘Scrabble’ Variants May Spike COVID Infections: What You Should Know

‘Scrabble’ Variants May Spike COVID Infections: What You Should Know

By now, we all understand that COVID will continue to evolve frequently. It’s easy to brush off news of virus mutations, but being aware of potentially concerning variants is pretty important at this stage of the pandemic. (After all, the omicron variant caused so much mayhem, it spurred the development of an updated vaccine, aka the bivalent booster.)Now, public health experts are warning about a rise in several “scrabble” variants; they have collectively led to nearly one in three new COVID infections in the country, according to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).That’s a pretty big deal since omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 dominated the US as recently as mid-September. Two variants in particular—BQ.1 and BQ.1.1—recently accounted for at least 11% of all COVID infections in the country, per the CDC.The issue with this collection of variants is that experts believe “they’re more immune-evasive,” Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, tells SELF. So, how concerned should you be? Here’s what you should know as we head into the thick of cold and flu season.What are the “scrabble” variants, exactly?The term “scrabble variants” isn’t official or anything. It seems to have been coined by Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital, who recently told CNN that the names of the rising variants remind him of high-scoring letters in the game Scrabble—Q, X, and B.There’s a full list that you’ll be quizzed on later (kidding!). They include:BQ.1BQ.1.1BF.7BA.4.6BA.2.75BA.2.75.2In other parts of the world—particularly in Singapore—the XBB variant is also causing all sorts of trouble.Overall, these variants “are descendants of BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5, and have accumulated additional immune-evasive mutations,” Amesh A. Adalja, MD, infectious disease expert and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF. That means any partial protection you may have—either from the COVID vaccine or a previous COVID infection—is thought to be less effective against these newer variants compared to recent omicron strains.BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, in particular, seem poised to circulate frequently in the coming months. Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently told CBS News that these variants are “troublesome” and have “qualities or characteristics that could evade some of the interventions we have.”One reason for that? They have “minor mutations in the spike protein” that differentiate them from each other and from what’s circulating now, William Schaffner, MD, infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, tells SELF.What COVID symptoms do the “scrabble” variants cause?All data on these variants is “preliminary” because they’re so new, so it’s tough to say how the symptoms they cause may differ from previous strains, if they differ at all, Dr. Schaffner says. BA.4 and BA.5, for example, may have caused more back and neck pain, at least anecdotally, but symptoms still varied considerably, as SELF previously reported.

Here’s How Long Flu Shot Side Effects Last, If You Experience Them at All

Here’s How Long Flu Shot Side Effects Last, If You Experience Them at All

Friendly reminder: It’s time to get your annual flu vaccine if you haven’t already. Flu season is already ramping up, and experts are expecting an especially rough fall and winter, so getting your shot before the end of October is pretty darn important. There are plenty of precautions that can help protect you from the flu—washing your hands frequently and masking up, to name a couple—but the vaccine is a tool that should top your list.Like any vaccine, though, the flu shot does come with potential side effects—and this is usually a good thing. It’s a strong sign that your immune system is responding to the vaccine and building up those all-important, infection-fighting antibodies, as SELF previously reported.But how long do flu shot side effects last? Here’s what you should know so you can plan ahead, just in case you do end up feeling a bit crummy after your appointment.How long do flu shot side effects last for most people?First, it’s important to note that everyone reacts differently post-vaccine. Some people get the flu shot and feel totally fine, while others may feel a bit unwell. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common side effects that can occur include soreness, inflammation, or swelling in the arm or around the injection site; low-grade headache; fever; nausea; muscles aches; fatigue; and fainting (especially if needles tend to freak you out).“Most people get pain at the injection site and a sore arm,” John Sellick, DO, infectious disease expert and epidemiological researcher at the University at Buffalo/SUNY in New York, tells SELF. “It’s typical of what we see with most other vaccines.”Thankfully, these symptoms are usually mild and go away on their own. The duration “varies from person to person” but, in general, side effects from the flu vaccine “usually last about a day”—again, if you have them at all, infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells SELF. How to feel a bit better when side effects strikeAgain, any discomfort post-vaccine should be pretty short-lived, Dr. Adalja says. But if you’re not feeling great, there are a few things you can do to try to speed up your recovery time:Take OTC pain relievers. Acetaminophen is a good option for reducing fever and easing any soreness, Dr. Schaffner says.Move your affected arm. This can help promote blood flow to the area, which helps repair the muscle in your arm that’s (very slightly) torn from the injection, Dr. Schaffner says.Cool it down. Putting a cool, damp washcloth over your arm can help with any swelling and visible inflammation or reddening of the skin, Dr. Schaffner says.Drink plenty of fluids. Being hydrated won’t necessarily get rid of the side effects, but it enables your body to work more efficiently, Dr. Sellick says. Also, being dehydrated can make you feel even worse.Rest! If your body feels off and you’re just sluggish, take it easy, Dr. Schaffner says. Consider going to bed a bit earlier, or doing lighter stretching instead of an intense run, for example.When should you talk to a doctor about potential flu shot side effects?Some people may have an allergic reaction to a component in the flu vaccine, like egg protein, but this is fairly rare. If you do have an allergic reaction, it usually happens within a few minutes to a few hours after you get the shot, the CDC says, so you’ll know pretty quickly; those who are allergic can potentially experience trouble breathing, wheezing, hives, weakness, a rapid heartbeat, and/or dizziness. You should always let your health care provider or pharmacist know in advance if you have a history of allergies or severe reactions to any vaccines, so you can talk through your options with that in mind.And, you probably already know this, but it never hurts to mention it again: The flu shot does not actually give you the flu—even if it kinda feels like it for a day. “It’s absolutely medically impossible to get the flu from the flu vaccine,” Dr. Schaffner stresses.If you suddenly start experiencing respiratory symptoms after you get your vaccine—like coughing, sneezing, or a sore throat—Dr. Sellick says that’s a sign you probably caught something before your appointment. It’s totally possible to come down with a cold, the flu, or even COVID before you get vaccinated, and then coincidentally develop symptoms of that illness shortly after you get your jab.“Some people may get their flu shot on Monday and start to have a runny nose or sore throat on Tuesday,” Dr. Schaffner explains. That usually “means you picked up a virus from somewhere else.” Related:

A Huge Number of People Are Lying About Taking COVID Safety Seriously

A Huge Number of People Are Lying About Taking COVID Safety Seriously

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that many people are, well, a bit selfish. Most of us know a friend of a friend who decided to end their COVID isolation early to go to, say, a wedding or a concert. Or perhaps they refused to test themselves over the fear of actually being positive and needing to chill at home for a bit.Now, a new survey suggests that people do, in fact, straight-up lie about their COVID status or following public health guidelines. The survey results, which were published in JAMA Network Open, found that 721 of the 1,733 people polled—nearly 42%—said they have “misrepresented” their adherence to COVID public health measures. (Just so we’re clear, in our book, that means they lied!) For the survey, that “misrepresentation” included ignoring quarantine guidelines, telling people they were about to visit that were more cautious than they actually were, and failing to mention at the doctor’s office that they might or did have COVID.Oh, and it didn’t stop there: Some people also claimed they were vaccinated when they weren’t. These were people who admitted to doing this, so it’s reasonable to assume that the true number of people who took any part in this behavior may actually be higher. OK, but why? People most commonly listed “wanting life to feel normal” or the good ol’ “personal freedom” excuse. “A substantial minority of participants also explained these behaviors by endorsing statements about COVID-19 not being real or a big deal,” the researchers noted. So, that’s where we’re at.The researchers also found that people under the age of 60 and those who said they had a “greater distrust in science” had “significantly higher” odds of lying about COVID or refusing to follow recommendations. As a result, the researchers concluded that “future work is needed to examine strategies for communicating the consequences of misrepresentation and nonadherence.” Basically, people need to understand that lying about their COVID status or flouting public health recommendations can have dire consequences.It’s important to note that the number of people surveyed does not represent the entire country and more research needs to be done to fully understand the scope of this issue—but experts say they’re not shocked by the results. The researchers acknowledge that public health measures around COVID “can involve tremendous psychological, social, financial, and physical burdens” for some people.“It’s not really surprising, although the numbers are larger than I might have anticipated,” William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells SELF.John Sellick, DO, an infectious disease expert and epidemiological researcher at the University at Buffalo/SUNY, agrees. “We’ve always had trouble convincing people to stay home when they’re sick,” he tells SELF. “With COVID-19, it’s even more complicated because we have had so many asymptomatic infections.” Because COVID restrictions have been lifted in most states, infectious disease experts say you should assume that you’ll probably interact with people who have contracted the virus on a fairly regular basis—including those who know they are infected or who have cut their isolation period short.Of course, you can’t control what other people do at this point—but you can own your actions. Systemic issues shouldn’t be up to individuals to manage, but that’s the grim reality we’re facing nearly three years into this public health crisis. If you’re concerned about COVID—because, yes, it’s still very much a thing—here’s your motivation to keep masking up in public and crowded indoor spaces and testing yourself frequently before you plan to visit others, especially those who face a higher risk of developing a serious case of COVID. We’re officially in flu season and heading into the holidays, so now’s now the time to let your guard down.Related:

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