Pass around the hand sanitizer and wash your hands — the flu is upon us.
Although flu season peaks between December and February, seasonal influenza virus can be detected year round, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
So other then becoming a shut-in, how can you stay healthy?
Nothing can fully prevent you from ever getting the flu, but a couple things can lessen your chances.
Getting a flu shot is the easiest way to decrease illness.
Dr. Jacob Curtis with Grand Peaks Medical in Rexburg says many people overlook getting the flu shot as a way to stay healthy, even though influenza claims hundred or American lives each year.
He encourages people to consider getting the flu shot from their medical provider or pharmacy – especially those who are at a greater risk of hospitalization such as the elderly, pregnant, or very young.
And have you heard getting the flu shot makes you sick? Curtis says to throw that myth away.
“I have many patients tell me they once developed the flu after obtaining the flu shot. As the shot is inactivated (flu virus), it’s unable to cause the flu,” he says.
Though the flu shot cannot give you the actual flu, he says as your body responds to the vaccine its possible to experience nausea, loose stools, or rarely vomiting, but is not due to the flu.
The CDC says human influenza viruses can generally survive on surfaces between 2 and 8 hours. Try to avoid close contact with sick people, if you touch a surface with the virus and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, there’s a good chance you will come down with the flu.
If you can remove germs from your hands, you lessen the chance of being infected. Although washing your hands with soap and water is preferable, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
Be considerate if you end up getting the flu.
Do not go to work, school, church or other events while sick. The CDC recommends staying home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of fever reducing medication), except to get medical care.
Send someone else out for other necessities. If you go to the store or to work with the flu, you have now exposed everyone you have come in contact with and may have left the flu virus for someone else to pick up!
It’s said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so if you’re looking to stay well this upcoming year, consider getting a flu shot and washing your hands. It may just give you the edge you need to stay well this flu season.