Don't Let Flu Season Get the Best of You and Yours
As the seasons shift and flu season approaches, there are steps you can take to keep your clan healthy and avoid the miserable symptoms that accompany the influenza virus. It’s no secret how rampant the flu is, in fact, according to the CDC, influenza has affected between 9.3 and 49 million people annually since 2010, resulting in 140,000 and 960,000 hospitalizations and between 12,000 and 79,000 deaths annually. So to keep yourself and your family in the clear, there are some preventative steps you can take to avoid the flu’s extreme discomforts.
Get a Flu Shot
Obvious, sure, but so many folks forego this preventative step! Getting the vaccine is the single best thing you can do every year to protect yourself from getting extremely ill. The CDC recommends everyone over 6 months old should get the flu shot, unless you have a severe/life-threatening allergy to the vaccine. Between 2005 and 2014, the flu vaccine saved 40,000 lives in the United States, and even in cases where the shot doesn’t prevent infection, it minimizes symptoms and duration of the virus, greatly decreasing the likelihood of complications and death.
Wash Your Hands
You likely had a granny who told you to wash your hands all the time, and during flu season in particular, you’d do well to heed her warning! Practicing good, healthy habits and cleanliness acts as another line of defense against the flu. The flu virus is intensely contagious, and can live on surfaces like doorknobs and tabletops for up to 24 hours. It can be spread from person to person from up to 6-feet away, carried in droplets released into the air from sneezing, coughing, and even simply breathing. So, yeah. Wash. Your. Hands. Also, try to avoid touching your face if you can manage it.
Go to Town With Lysol
Cleanliness is next to godliness, especially during the oh-so-harrowing flu season. So wipe down everything, then do it again. Disinfecting surfaces around your home and office can go a long way in killing the flu virus. Lysol wipes will basically be your best friend from October to February so you can avoid potential infection, or its spread, if a family member or coworker has contracted the flu virus. It’s a great method for keeping the flu at bay.
Boost Your Immune System
Your immune system is what goes to bat for you if or when germs enter your body. This is why it’s of utmost importance to nurture it, and try to stay healthy so that if you do come into contact with something like the flu virus, your body can launch an attack on those infectious germs with a chance at success in fighting them off. You can keep your immune system in ship shape by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy BMI, getting the recommended amount of sleep nightly, and managing stress in healthy ways. You can also up your intake of vitamin D, which studies suggest can help reduce the risk of contracting colds and flu.
Take Antivirals At First Sign of Flu
If you do start to show symptoms of the flu, see your doctor immediately. Antiviral drugs can be used to treat the illness, and can greatly reduce the severity and duration of symptoms associated with the virus. Antivirals are not over-the-counter drugs, but can be prescribed by your doctor. Studies show that these medications are most effective if taken within 2 days of showing signs of flu, but your doctor or child’s pediatrician can help determine a treatment plan that best suits your case.
In review, to ward off the flu virus over the coming months: get vaccinated, keep your hands clean, keep your house and office clean and disinfected, take extra good care of your body with healthy diet, sleep patterns and exercise, and see your doctor immediately if you start showing symptoms! Our staff at NiteOwl Pediatrics is happy to help you with any flu questions, flu shots, or treatment if the flu gets you.