Flu season is in full effect. Many across the country are sick from the contagious disease, while others are trying to do whatever they can to prevent it.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends three different ways to protect yourself and others from catching the flu:
1. Take time to get a flu vaccine
- The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the "first and most important step."
- The flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common.
- Flu vaccination can reduce flu illnesses, all the doctor's visits and days out of school/work sick.
- They recommend anyone six months of age or older to get the vaccine before the end of October.
- Those at high risk should definitely get one in order to decrease the risk of severe flu illness.
- Those considered high risk are young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease. Also people over the age of 65 are included in this category.
- Health care workers and other people who live with or care for high risk people should get the vaccine.
- People who care for children under six months should get the vaccine because babies are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated.
2. Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, limit your contact with others so that you don't infect them.
- If you have flu symptoms, it is recommended that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
- Always use a tissue when you cough or sneeze and then throw it away.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
- Try to avoid contact with your eyes, nose and mouth because you don't want the germs to spread.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects.
3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them
- Antiviral drugs can be used to treat the flu.
- The are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines which aren't available over-the-counter.
- They can make illness milder and shorten sickness time.
- Studies indicate they work best when they are started within two days of getting sick.
- Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people also may have vomiting and diarrhea.
- You can also be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
So, what do you do if you taken all these preventive measures and still catch the flu? Click here for a guide on everything you need to know if you get the disease.