With fall in the air and winter quickly approaching, flu season is on everyone’s mind. Each year the flu seems to get progressively worse, so what can you do to help reduce your risk for contracting the flu virus this fall?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the single-most effective way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated. Because the flu evolves each season, it is important that everyone 6 months of age and older, gets a vaccine each year. The CDC also emphasizes the importance of vaccination in people who are at high risk for contracting the flu such as older adults and children. It is also good to note that there are several types of flu vaccinations available to help best fit the needs of various groups of people.
You may have heard people saying “The flu shot makes me sicker than the actual flu”, but is there any actual evidence of this? The Mayo Clinic agrees with the CDC in that the flu vaccine is the best way to reduce your risk of coming down with the flu, however they do acknowledge that “some people experience muscle aches and fever for a day or two after receiving a flu shot.” They attribute this to our “body’s product of protective antibodies.” So while you may temporarily feel a little under the weather following your vaccination, the benefits will far outweigh the negatives.
Aside from getting a flu shot, there are many other steps you can take to prevent the flu. The CDC recommends these preventative actions to stop the spread of the flu virus:
- Try to avoid close contact with people demonstrating any symptoms of the flu (listed below)
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth when possible
- Drinking water and taking a daily vitamin can help keep your immune system healthy
It is also important to recognize flu symptoms so you can steer clear of anyone who may already have contracted the virus. Flu symptoms include:
- Fever or chills
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Vomiting or diarrhea (more common in children)
If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever has diminished to prevent further spread of the virus.
For additional information regarding the flu, vaccinations for the virus, and information on preventing the flu this season, you can visit the CDC’s website.