Ahhh-ahhhh-ahhhh-chooooo. Flu season officially begins in October and lasts through May, but you can get the flu any time of the year. Unfortunately, the flu virus mutates frequently, making any hope for a cure unlikely at this time. Because the virus is so adaptable, medical researchers try to stay one step ahead. Here are a few ways to protect yourself and prevent the flu.
Recognize the symptoms. If you experience headache or fever, fatigue, a cough or sore throat, stuffed up or runny nose, aching body, or nausea/vomiting/diarrhea (especially in children), you might have the flu. See your doctor right away for treatment. Stay home from school or work to prevent spreading the flu to others.
Follow your doctor’s instructions. If you doctor prescribes you a medication for the flu, take it exactly as prescribed. Taking the medication properly will reduce your symptoms, speed up your recovery time, and protect you from other possible infections. You will also prevent your family members from catching it from you!
Keep your hands away from your face. The thin mucus membranes of your eyes, nose, and mouth are very susceptible to germs. Don’t touch your face unless you have just disinfected your hands. Teach children to keep hands away from the face and to cough into a tissue or their elbows.
Wash up and disinfect often. Wash your hands with soap and hot water after you come in contact with anyone else. If you can’t get to soap and water, use a waterless hand sanitizer. Germs also hide on commonly touched items like doorknobs, tables, phones, and gym equipment. If you’ve been working out, take a hot shower right after to protect your whole body.
- Get the flu shot. Get your flu shot early in the season so it will be active when the worst outbreaks of flu arrive in January and February; the shot takes up to two weeks to fully protect you. You can get an injection from your doctor, local pharmacy, and temporary flu shot stations in your area. Everyone over 6 months old should get the shot, especially the elderly, children, pregnant women, and those who spend time with children. If you don’t like injections, there is a nasal spray form of the vaccine available to anyone not pregnant between ages 2 and 49.
Medical Center Arlington is here for you this flu season. Check out our Cold and Flu Center to learn more about symptoms and testing. You can also arrange to have a flu shot. Contact us today to get your family protected from the flu!