Flu season comes around every year and no one likes to be sick, especially with the flu. If you’ve gotten the flu before you might even dread this time of year. Although influenza, also known as seasonal flu, may seem like a common cold at first, it’s not the same.
The flu comes from a different virus and the symptoms are much worse than those of a cold. The flu will keep you miserably sick and stuck in bed with a high fever, severe chills and aches, and a cough, sore throat, and stuffy nose. The flu has been known to linger for up to 3 weeks. Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. So, it’s no wonder people dread this time of year, from December through March, when flu season is at its peak.
But have no fear! We’re providing you a list of top 11 tips to help protect you from the flu this year. It’s important to be proactive in maintaining your own good health and preventing the spread of germs to others. We all play an important part in keeping our community healthy and safe.
Here’s what you can do now to protect yourself and others from the flu:
1. Get the flu shot each year
Getting vaccinated against the flu virus is the number one thing you can do to prevent catching the seasonal flu and spreading it to others. When more people get vaccinated, less flu can spread through that community.
The seasonal strands of influenza change constantly which is why people catch the flu multiple times and why you can get sick even if you got vaccinated last year. Because the flu virus changes and mutates so often, the vaccine is updated every year to protect you from the newest known strains. This is why you should get the flu shot every year! Learn more about the flu vaccine at flu.gov.
2. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
This is a good rule of thumb for preventing illness all year long, but especially during cold and flu season. You need to wash your hands all throughout the day and more often than you probably think!
Make sure to wash with soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. A good measure of time is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice while washing your hands to ensure you got most of the germs off.
Be sure to wash up especially if you know you’ve been in contact with someone who is sick.
3. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer often
For cases when you don’t have easy access to wash your hands, keep a travel size bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you. This way you can sanitize your hands and better prevent spreading the flu virus.
4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth—especially with unwashed hands
Viruses that cause flus and colds can enter your body this way and make you sick. When you’re in public places, you may not know who touched something before you and if they are sick or not, leaving behind their germs.
Viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, so when you touch something and then touch your face you’re now in direct contact with those germs. Therefore, it’s best to avoid touching your face as much as possible.
5. Stay away from people who are sick
Avoid touching or even being near people who have the cold or flu. This includes avoiding things like shaking hands, hugging, and kissing. If you do have to be near someone who is sick, keep the visit short and keep your distance from them.
6. Avoid crowds of people whenever possible
Because people can be infected with the flu or cold even before symptoms appear, you may not always know if someone around you is sick or not and consequently spreading their germs to you. This is a good reason not to get caught up in crowded spaces too long and to avoid crowds altogether if you can.
If you are stuck in a crowd though, try not to talk too closely to people. Turn your face and cover your mouth and nose if someone starts sneezing or coughing near you. In this case, breathe out slowly until you can get 6 to 10 feet away from that person. This keeps you from inhaling the contaminated air.
7. Avoid touching things like rails and doorknobs, especially in public places
As much as you can help it, avoid putting your hands on stair rails, door knobs, and drinking fountains. Public surfaces like these don’t get sanitized very often and they carry germs of hundreds of hands and mouths. Instead, use the back of your hand, arms, and elbows—since these don’t come in contact with your face as much—to help you do things like open a door or turn on a faucet.
Along the same line, don’t share things like pens and cell phones, and other personal items. Avoid shared candy dishes too. Definitely don’t share drinks and unwashed eating utensils with others either.
8. Keep your home, workplace, and car clean and sanitized
Just as germs can live on your hands and face, germs can live on your stuff too. Keep handy disinfectant wipes, like Clorox wipes, so you can sanitize your surroundings frequently. Wipe down surfaces, door knobs, keyboards, even your cell phone often.
This is a sure way to prevent the spread of the flu and other germs in the places you spend most of your time and to those you live and work with.
9. Get plenty of sleep to help your body keep up a strong immune system
This is a general rule of the thumb all year round, but especially during cold and flu season. When your body is over tired and exhausted it’s harder for your body to fight off germs and viruses that try to attack your body. Therefore, you can help yourself stay healthy and infection free by getting good rest every day.
10. Get good nutrition and exercise
For overall good health, try to eat healthy and exercise. Avoid smoking and drinking as well, as these are things that will lower your immune system, making you more at risk of catching the flu. Refrain from eating too many sugary treats and drinks too. Instead, drink plenty of good fluids, like water and sports drinks that have low sugar and high electrolytes.
11. Keep up with your overall health
Along with diet and exercise, stay in good overall health in other ways. For example, if you have allergies, keep it under control. This is because allergies negatively affect your respiratory system—the set of organs that allows you to breathe, such as your nose, your throat, and your lungs. If your allergies are out of control, your respiratory system is already weakened and inflamed, making your body more susceptible to catching illnesses like the flu.
If you have other health problems, this could make you more likely to catch the flu. So stay up on your general health. Be aware of what’s going on with your body and others around you. See a doctor sooner than later if you feel like you’re coming down with something and get the help you need to prevent the spread of illness.
Now that you have the top 11 flu prevention tips, don’t let flu season get you down! Staying educated on this topic and taking all of these precautions can greatly reduce your risk of catching and spreading the flu. Follow our tips and share them with others, and hopefully we can all do our part in preventing the spread of this nasty illness.
Still afraid you might catch the flu?
Remember to get the flu vaccine each year!
You can visit us at our Medical Specialty Center—Your Everyday Health Care Clinic—where we offer walk-in care and appointments for flu immunizations as well as screening, diagnosis, and treatment—if you do happen to come down with the flu. We’ll take care of you quickly and efficiently. No appointments necessary! Open 7 days a week. It’s our goal to have fast and friendly care while delivering quality health care.
At Orchard Hospital, we want you to have the best information available for keeping you and your family safe. Please consider getting vaccinated this year, for you, your friends and family, and our community! Remember to ask your doctor or your local pharmacist when you can get your vaccination, so you can stay healthy.
Our mission at Orchard Hospital is to provide our community with superior healthcare. We strive to ensure that your experience at Orchard Hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. Our priority is to provide you with the care you need when you need it, with skill, compassion, and respect.