In case you hadn’t noticed, cold and flu season is upon us. And you may be interested in knowing what you can do to protect yourself and your family (as much as possible) from getting sick. So here’s some helpful information about the flu that may be useful.
First of all, you may be wondering, what exactly is “the flu”? The real “Flu” is caused by the influenza virus and infects the nose, throat and sometimes the lungs. It is different than the common cold with symptoms that may be more severe. Many people experience high fevers, cough, sore throat, runny or congested nose, muscle aches, headaches, and fatigue. Getting the flu can also increase your risk of developing bacterial infections like pneumonia, ear infections and sinus infections.
How do you get the flu? Usually flu is spread from person to person by tiny droplets made when people cough, sneeze or talk. The droplets can stay airborne and land in the mouths, noses or eyes of people nearby. You can also get the flu from touching a surface that has been covered by these droplets, like a table or doorknob, and then touching your mouth or face. People can spread the flu 1-2 days before they feel sick and up to 5-7 days after they develop symptoms. The CDC estimates that 8% of all people in the US get the flu each year, with even higher rates in children.
So what can you do to keep from getting the flu? The most important step is to get the flu vaccine every year. The CDC recommends everyone 6 months or older get the flu vaccine every year by the end of October if possible. But getting the vaccine at any time during flu season can help prevent serious illness and even hospitalization from influenza. You can also take these everyday steps to keep yourself and others healthy:
Avoid close contact with people who are sick
Wash your hands regularly with soap and water or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
Clean and disinfect surfaces in your home that may be contaminated with germs (doorknobs, faucets, tables)
If you do get sick, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and stay home for at least 24 hours after any fevers go away
As always, remember to take care of yourself by eating healthy, getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep. For more information consider visiting the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/flu