Flu Season: Five Things You Can Do To Stay Healthy
The facts are black and white: Flu is a killer, its season is here and you do not want to be one of the more than 220,000 Americans who each year are hospitalized because of this preventable, virus-caused disease.
As flu season unfolds, remember the darkest facts: Almost 40,000 people die from the flu each year. It’s the eighth leading cause of death in our country. For populations within the whole – the very young and very old, people with chronic disease or immune-system conditions – the threat is even more intense.
“Do it now. Get the vaccination,” said Jawad Nazir, MD, Avera Medical Group infectious disease specialist. “It’s a good idea for everyone older than 6 months. Even younger, healthier people who contract it will do better being vaccinated than they would if they skip the shot.”
Nazir provides these five main ideas for fighting back in the face of flu season:
- Get the shot, the mist or any form of the vaccination now. Now. “That’s where prevention starts and where you’re best served if you want to help everyone avoid the flu,” he said. “If you’re not concerned with your own health, think of others. You’re not just helping you when you get the shot, you’re helping everyone.”
- Wash your hands, avoid touching your face. Hand-washing is an easy way to avoid spreading the disease. The flu can live on surfaces shared by many people, so wash your hands, especially before you touch your face, especially your nose, eyes or mouth.
- Stay home if you’re sick. “Without symptoms, there’s really no way to know if someone has the flu,” said Nazir. “But people can transmit it before the symptoms are full-blown. They also should remain at home to avoid sharing it with their coworkers. Stay home until you have been without a fever for a full 24 hours without the use of any fever-reducing medications.”
- Know the signs of flu. Fever, cough, body ache, dizzy feelings and runny nose, along with a general fatigue, all are signs of the flu. Kids, most commonly, can show other signs including nausea and vomiting, but they are less common signs of the illness.
- Get help or help those who need it. “People age 65 and older, children and anyone who faces chronic illnesses who develops symptoms should schedule appointments with their doctor to possibly start timely antiviral medications,” Nazir said. “Most younger, healthier people can stay home and rest, while getting plenty of fluids, and recover. But remember to stay home for a full 24 hours after the symptoms, especially fever, have gone away. You do not want to share the flu with anyone.”