Flu viruses sweep across the country every year and flu season is predicted to peak from December 2015 to February 2016. As years pass, new strains of flu viruses emerge and vaccines evolve to combat these changes, but each year’s flu season is wildly unpredictable and some age groups are more at risk than others. What can you do to prepare? We’ve compiled a list of tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Flu.gov.
Get your flu vaccine. The number one preventative measure for avoiding the flu is the flu vaccine. Doctors recommend everyone 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccination yearly. While children younger than 6 months are highly susceptible to the flu, they are too young to be vaccinated. Instead, make sure all who care for the child are vaccinated. Those who are at high risk should definitely have a flu vaccine—those who have a high risk of contracting the flu include children, pregnant women, people 65 and older, and people with chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart and lung disease, and asthma.
Avoid potential germs. If someone you know is sick, avoid close contact. When you are near them, wash your hands before and after with soap and water and avoid touching your nose, mouth or face in general. Also take measures to disinfect areas that might be contaminated with flu germs, such as doorknobs and elevator buttons at work and kitchen and bathroom counters at home.
Monitor your symptoms. Make sure you stay in tune with what’s going on with your body. If you notice flu-like symptoms, make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible for medical advice. Flu symptoms include: fever, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, and congestion. If left untreated, the flu can snowball into even more health complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections, and dehydration.
If you are sick, stay home. If you do show signs of having the flu or are diagnosed by your doctor, avoid going to work or school. Spreading your germs elsewhere will only make things worse for others. If possible, ask your boss if you can work from home. If not, make sure you cover your coughs and sneezes, wash your hands, and disinfect what you touch throughout the day. Being overly cautious never hurt anyone when it comes to the flu.
See your doctor about preventative, antiviral medications. Your doctor can prescribe flu antiviral drugs which are 70 to 90 percent effective at preventing the flu. They can come in a prescription pill, liquid, or inhaler form and are approved for ages one year and older.
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