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It’s that time of year again—flu season. If you’ve been lucky enough not to get it While it may seem like you’ll be struck by the flu at any moment, there are some ways to protect yourself—and others—from getting that awful sickness. Read on to find out the top three ways to fight the flu, plus other helpful tips.
1. Get a Flu Shot
There is a lot of back and forth out there on the good and bad of flu shots. But we’ll just stick to the basics.
According to the CDC, the most important step in protecting yourself against flu viruses is to get a yearly flu vaccine. Here’s why:
- It can keep you from getting sick with the flu.
- It can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations for children, working age adults and older adults.
- It is an important preventative tool for people with chronic health conditions.
- It helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
- It can be life-saving in children.
Getting vaccinated may also protect others around you, such as those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illnesses, like babies and young children, older people and people with certain chronic health conditions.
While getting a flu shot by the end of October is recommended, it is not too late to get one.
Who should get the flu shot? The CDC recommends the shot for:
- Children six months and older
- Pregnant women
- Adults 65+
- People with chronic medical conditions (asthma, congestive heart failure, diabetes)
2. Take Daily Preventative Action
Germs are everywhere. But before you start walking around town with a can of disinfectant in hand, there are some things you can do daily to prevent the spread of germs. Here’s how:
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible.
- If sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours (except to receive medical care of other necessities).
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. (Do not reuse tissues. Follow the blow and throw away rule.)
- Wash hands often with soap and water. If no soap is available, opt for an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. These are prime spots for germs.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs. (Don’t forget areas such as kitchen counters, doorknobs, light switches, toilet handles, remote controls, phones, etc.).
3. Take Antiviral Flu Medication
If you are diagnosed with the flu, your doctor may prescribe you antiviral flu medication. I’m sure you’ve heard of Tamiflu.
The CDC recommends taking these medications for two reasons:
- They help ease flu symptoms.
- They can shorten sick time.
Here is some info on anti flu medications:
- Antiviral medicals are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or inhaled powder). They are not available over the counter.
- Antiviral medications can prevent serious flu complications, especially for those with high risk factors (diabetes, lung afflictions, age, etc.).
Wash Yours Hands (the right way)
You’ve washed your hands a zillion times before. You may think that you’re an expert at this every day task. But are you sure? Really, really sure? Better check out these hand-washing tips from the medical experts at UAB just in case!
- Wet hands with running water
- Put soap in palm and lather.
- Rub hands—palm to palm—vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Scrub all surfaces, including backs of hands, wrists, between fingers and under fingernails.
- Rinse well.
- Dry hands with clean paper towel.
- Use towel to turn off faucet, then throw it away.
Have the Flu?
I am so sorry! As miserable as you feel, hang in there. Here are some things UAB medicine suggests doing to make it.
- Relieve symptoms with pain relievers (ibuprofen/acetaminophen)
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Use a humidifier.
- Suck on cough drops or popsicles to reduce throat pain.