It doesn't seem possible, but flu season is here. And although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently lists that flu activity is low at this time, that can change as we get further into the season. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu, this fall and winter is more important than ever.
Keep these flu-fighting tips in mind to help get your family out in front of the flu this year.
1. Get Your Flu Shot
The flu shot works because it gets your body ready to fight the flu before it ever comes in contact with the virus. So even if it doesn’t keep you from getting sick, it will most likely make your symptoms less severe and shorten your recovery time.
The CDC has worked with vaccine manufacturers to have extra flu shots available this flu season, and they recommend getting your shot in September or October. If you miss that timeframe, getting vaccinated later in the year can still help protect you.
If you have young children, older parents or live with someone with chronic health issues, getting the flu shot protects them as well as you.
2. Wash Your Hands
Soap and hand sanitizer are two of your best weapons for preventing the flu. Wash your hands often, scrubbing a full 30 seconds with soap. If soap and water aren’t available, reach for alcohol-based sanitizer or hand wipes. The flu virus can live on surfaces for days.
3. See Your Doctor
Antivirals don’t kill the virus like antibiotics do for bacteria, but they can ramp up your body’s ability to fight back. Antiviral medication is only available by prescription, and most effective if taken early — within two days of getting the flu. They may help ease symptoms if started later as well, so it’s important to call your doctor as soon as you start feeling under the weather.
Flu Facts to Remember
Flu doesn’t always cause a fever. If you experience body aches, cough and fatigue, don't ignore the signs. The faster you can get antiviral medications, the better.
For severe symptoms (trouble breathing, chest pain, persistent vomiting, confusion, sudden dizziness) call 911 or have someone drive you to the emergency room.
Seek emergency care if your symptoms improve, then return with a fever or a worse cough than you had originally.