As winter sets in and temperatures drop, flu season arrives, bringing with it the risk of catching and spreading influenza. While the flu can be a common and sometimes unavoidable part of the colder months, there are proactive steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Get Vaccinated Against the Flu
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from the flu is by getting vaccinated. The flu vaccine is designed to target the most prevalent strains of the virus for a given season, providing you with immunity against those specific strains. Vaccination not only reduces your risk of contracting the flu but also helps minimize the severity of symptoms if you do get infected. The CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 months or older, with rare exceptions, receive a flu vaccine every year. The best way to know what flu vaccination is appropriate for you and your family is to talk to your healthcare provider(s).
Practice Good Hand Hygiene & Avoid Touching your Face
The flu virus is very contagious and can enter your body through your eyes, nose, and mouth, so it’s crucial to avoid touching your face, especially with unwashed hands. Frequent handwashing is a simple yet powerful practice for preventing the spread of disease. According to the CDC, washing your hands can prevent one in five respiratory infections, such as the flu. Handwashing can also reduce the number of people who get colds and respiratory illnesses by 16-21%. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public places, touching surfaces, or interacting with sick individuals. If soap and water are not available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as a temporary alternative.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
A strong immune system is your body’s first line of defense against infections, including the flu. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can bolster your immune system. Make sure to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, engage in regular physical activity, get enough sleep, and manage stress levels. Proper hydration is also essential for overall health and can help support your immune system. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help your body function optimally and flush out toxins. Herbal teas and clear broths can also contribute to hydration. These healthy habits can also help you recover faster if you do contract an illness.
Practice Respiratory Etiquette
It’s always a good idea to practice respiratory etiquette any time of year but it’s especially important during flu season. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing, and dispose of tissues properly. This helps prevent the spread of respiratory droplets that may contain the flu virus. Regularly clean and disinfect high-traffic and commonly touched surfaces in your home and workplace, such as doorknobs, light switches, and electronic devices. This can help eliminate lingering viruses and reduce the risk of transmission. If you do become sick, you should stay home to rest and recover to prevent spreading germs to others. If you do have to venture out into public while you are sick, consider wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of respiratory infection.
Schedule your 2023 Flu Vaccine
Flu season doesn’t have to be a time of constant worry and illness. By taking proactive measures, such as getting vaccinated, practicing good hygiene, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and following respiratory etiquette, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting the flu. Incorporating these tips into your daily routine not only protects you but also contributes to the well-being of your community by preventing the spread of the virus. National Influenza Vaccination Week is December 4-8, so contact Premier Medical Group to ensure your vaccines are all up to date and schedule your flu vaccine today.