We don’t yet know if flu season has peaked. There’s still time to get the flu shot if you are at risk. Everyone six months or older should get vaccinated. Furthermore, the CDC recommends that children under two and individuals with medical conditions should also get a pneumococcal vaccination to prevent pneumonia.
If you get the flu you’ll know about it. Flu symptoms are much worse than the common cold. They come on suddenly, whereas cold symptoms are gradual. If you have flu you can expect a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, chills, and aching muscles. If you suspect that you have the flu call your healthcare provider as they may want to prescribe antiviral drugs to help reduce the severity and duration of your illness.
If you are still planning on getting a flu shot do so sooner rather than later because it takes 10 to 14 days for your body to develop immunity. Getting the flu shot doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get the flu but if you do it may lessen the severity of your illness.
In addition to getting vaccinated, there are measures you can take to limit exposure to the virus. Flu germs spread when people who are sick don’t cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze and cough. If you use a tissue make sure you dispose of it quickly and wash your hands. If there is no tissue use the crook of your elbow.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Flu germs can live for two to eight hours on hard services, which is why the illness can spread so easily. Wash your hands regularly and teach your children to do the same. The most effective way to wash your hands is run them under warm water, add soap, scrub for at least 20 seconds, rinse and dry. It’s important to wash your hands every time you use the bathroom, before you eat, and when you arrive home.
If family or friends have symptoms stay away until they are back to full health. If someone in your immediate family is sick keep them home, limit close contact, change sleeping arrangements if necessary, and avoid sharing washcloths, towels, dishes, toys, and utensils. Most people remain contagious up to a week after their first symptoms.
Clean frequently to avoid the spread of germs. Disinfect (or throw away) kitchen sponges and dishcloths, and regularly clean cutting boards, surfaces, floors, sinks, and toilets.
In addition to the above, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of fluids, exercise regularly and manage your stress.