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The Flu and You

Thursday, December 3, 2015

This time of year, around every corner you’re bound to see advertisements for pills, shots, and tonics to either help you get over the flu or to prevent it altogether. If you missed out on getting your flu shot or simply chose not to, you may need to work on your line of defense to guard you and your family to prevent an outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the CDC for short, has 3 actions they recommend for fighting or preventing influenza.

1. The flu shot – Pharmacies and doctor’s offices typically begin receiving the shot around October, but some areas may receive vaccines earlier or later. It is recommended that you check with your doctor or pharmacist and get the shot as soon as possible. While some locations may carry the shot all season, supplies are often limited. The shot is safe for anyone 6 months or older. Each year, the flu vaccine will most likely be different from years prior, since there are many strains of influenza. Researchers spend the whole year beforehand determining which strains will be most prominent and include them in the vaccine. If you have any concerns about receiving a flu shot, visit with your doctor so that you may express them and ask any questions you may have.

2. Take action to prevent germs – Washing your hands is always one of the best possible methods to prevent germs, including influenza, from spreading. The CDC has great guides on their website that will help you ensure that you and your loved ones are scrubbing appropriately.

It may seem like a no-brainer, but do your best to avoid people who are sick, even if it’s not necessarily the flu. Any kind of illness can lower your immune system and you may “catch” the flu when your defenses are down. If you come in contact with someone who is ill, make sure to wash your hands and ask them to cover their mouths if they sneeze or cough. 

Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. These areas are superhighways for germs to get into your body. If you are coughing or sneezing, make sure to cover your mouth with either your hands or a tissue then proceed to wash or sanitize your hands as soon as possible. Also, NEVER save tissues after they have been used; be sure to throw them away after each use. 

If someone in your home is diagnosed with the flu, try to keep them isolated to one room of the house. Be sure to launder bedding, clothing, and dishes often, and hold soiled laundry away from the body.

3. Antiviral drugs: If you or anyone in your family may have contracted the flu, visit a doctor as soon as possible. If you test positive, you will be prescribed antiviral drugs. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics and there are some created specifically to fight the flu. The CDC recognizes antiviral medications as the most effective method of getting over influenza. They will always be prescription based, and it’s important to note that over-the-counter meds are not useful in fighting this virus. Flu-like symptoms include fever, runny/stuffy nose, chills, sore throat, aches, cough, and fatigue. Some may also have vomiting and diarrhea. If you or a loved one is experiencing two or more of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately to combat the virus as quickly as possible before complications occur. 

Each year thousands are diagnosed and beat the flu but yet others encounter complications due to the virus. Do your best to prevent getting ill by following the CDC’s guidelines above. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your preferred medical professional or your local health department for guidance.

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