The winter months are fast approaching and with the cold comes the inevitability of shorter days, longer nights and the seasonal flu. According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), preventing and controlling the spread of communicable diseases like the flu is at the core of public health practitioners’ work.
If you want to avoid the flu this season, keep reading for some flu-fighting tips.
1. Get Vaccinated
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that everyone who is 6 months of age or older should receive an annual flu shot. The flu vaccine can decrease flu illnesses, as well as prevent hospitalizations due to flu complications. According to a 2017 study by the CDC, the flu vaccination can also considerably reduce a child’s risk of dying from flu. The CDC recommends getting your flu shot before the flu starts spreading in your community, as it takes approximately two weeks post-vaccination for antibodies that protect against flu to begin developing within your body.
2. Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is an easy way to protect yourself and others from spreading nasty germs. Getting into the habit of washing your hands after using the restroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose are just a few of the many scenarios in which hand washing can help prevent illness. If soap and water aren’t on hand, the CDC suggests using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. While these sanitizers may quickly decrease the number of germs on hands, it’s important to keep in mind that they do not remove all types of germs.
3. If you or someone you know has the flu, be considerate of spreading flu germs
If you know someone who has the flu, don’t come into close contact with them. If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, the CDC advises you should stay home for a minimum of 24 hours after your fever has broken without the aid of fever-reducing medicine. The only time you should leave is to seek medical care.
4. Use a Tissue
The CDC states that flu germs can be spread from up to six feet away. Whether you have the flu, a common cold or are just suffering from allergies, it’s important to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. After using a tissue, make sure to throw it away and wash your hands.
5. Make Healthy Habits a Part of Your Routine
People can contract the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes. This makes cleaning and disinfecting commonly-touched items in the home, at work or at school incredibly important during flu season. Getting a good night’s rest, staying physically active, drinking enough fluids and maintaining a healthy diet can also help people remain flu-free, according to the CDC.
Just because flu season is right around the corner, doesn’t mean you can’t protect yourself and loved ones from the flu this winter. By getting vaccinated, taking small steps to halt the spread of germs and maintaining a healthy routine, fighting off flu germs might be easier than you think.
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By Agnes Hicks
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