6 Ways to Prevent the Flu

man blowing nose into handkerchiefFlu season reaches its peak between December and March. However, healthcare professionals recommend that you should receive your flu shot by late October. Influenza, or flu as it is most commonly called, is a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract. The flu is spread easily from person to person through droplets from coughing and sneezing. (Droplets can travel through the air as far as 3 feet!) The virus also can spread from hands to mouth or nose.

A flu vaccine can prevent you from getting the flu. Children six months to five years old, anyone older than 65, women who will be pregnant during flu season, anyone with various chronic medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes, and anyone who lives or works with infants under six months old should all receive flu shots as they are more likely to experience complications from it.

Although it is important to receive a flu shot, there are several other ways you can help prevent the development of passing along of the flu.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home and rest to avoid becoming more ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing.
  • Some medications may help prevent the flu.
  • Avoid touching your face after touching any other objects. (Studies show the virus can survive from two to eight hours.)
  • Wash your hands! This is the best way to prevent the spread of all germs. Wash your hands well with soap, hot water and alcohol wipes or gel.

If you come into contact with the virus, you can develop symptoms anywhere from one to four days. Symptoms may include fever, headache, muscle aches, extreme tiredness, sore throat, dry cough and runny or stuffy nose. If you develop the flu, you are contagious for one to five days and may easily pass it along to others. Use the following steps for flu treatment.

  • Stay home and rest
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking
  • Take over-the-counter medications that your doctor advices to treat symptoms
  • Ask about medications that can help decrease the severity of symptoms

If you are having a physical before the end of the year, don’t forget to schedule your flu shot. If you need a primary care doctor, call 865-305-6970 or request an appointment.