Every year, the flu infects thousands of people. Although it’s hard to think about cold weather just yet, the reality is flu season starts as early as October. No one knows how severe it will be, or how long it will last. Prepare yourself now so you won’t be caught off guard when flu season hits.
Here’s a quick list of things that can help you avoid the flu:
- Stock up on hand sanitizer. You may wish to buy a larger bottle to keep on your desk, and smaller bottles for your purse, pocket, and vehicle. Get into the habit of using it whenever you touch a high-traffic surface like a doorknob, elevator button, ATM, or gasoline pump.
- Get some hand lotion, too. All that washing and sanitizing can make hands drier than usual. Cracked hands are uncomfortable and can invite germs into your body. Keep a bottle of rich hand lotion near your sink so you can slather it on after you wash up.
- Get the flu vaccine as early as you can. It takes about two weeks to take effect, so you’ll want to build your immunity before the peak of the season hits. The CDC recommends everyone older than six months of age get vaccinated. If you don’t like needles, ask your physician if the nasal spray vaccine might be right for you.
Despite our best efforts, sometimes we do get sick. If this happens to you, there are a few things you should do to minimize the damage and keep from spreading it to others:
- Stay home as much as you can. Going to work sick is not only unproductive, but dangerous as well. You’re exposing your co-workers, and anyone you encounter, to the flu -- including high-risk populations such as pregnant women, as well as people who have young children or elderly family members. Stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms begin, and longer if you can. Your body needs rest to recover, so you’ll be doing yourself a favor, too.
- Consider antiviral medication. If your physician determines you have the flu, he or she may suggest anti-viral medicines. These prescription drugs can help to shorten the severity and duration of the flu if taken early enough. Your physician can discuss the benefits and risks so you can determine if it’s right for you.
- Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or a tissue. If you're in the habit of sneezing into your hand, you could spread flu germs to everything you touch after that. Use your shirt’s sleeve on your upper arm, or have tissues handy. This keeps the germs contained and not on your hands. Then, give your hands a quick clean with sanitizer afterward for good measure.
With some good habits and a little preparation, you can greatly decrease the chance you’ll get the flu this year. Arm yourself with knowledge and stay away from people who are sick as much as possible, and you may sail through flu season without any problems.
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Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.