Tissues? Check. Warm, fuzzy sweater? Check. Plenty of liquids? Check.
You may think you’ve got everything you need to survive flu season — but there’s more you can do to prevent you and your loved ones from getting sick this year.
Influenza, the viruses that causes the flu, can negatively impact the health of everyone, regardless of age, fitness level, or any other underlying health condition. While there is no official timeframe for the flu season, the flu viruses tend to become more active during October. That’s why health officials use Flu Day in September to help people think proactively.
What is the Flu?
Like any virus, influenza viruses are spread by droplets of moisture that become airborne when people cough, sneeze, or even talk nearby. Viruses can also spread when someone with the virus touches a surface that someone else touches before touching their own mouth, eyes, or nose.
The flu causes many uncomfortable symptoms, which can occur days after the infection takes place. Most people start to feel better after a week or two, but sometimes it can take even longer for symptoms to alleviate. Flu symptoms may include:
- Sudden onset of a high fever
- Headaches or body aches
- Dry cough
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Digestive issues, such as diarrhea
You don’t always need an official diagnosis to know you’ve contracted the flu, but it’s a good idea to see your doctor to get the best treatment.
How Can I Prevent the Flu?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that everyone older than 6 months old should receive a yearly flu vaccine to prevent severe infections. It’s a good idea to get the flu shot before the flu appears in your community, and you can often get these vaccines for free from a local pharmacy.
Each year, the flu vaccine changes slightly as the virus itself will mutate. You cannot presume that last year’s shot will be effective to survive this years flu season.
Along with getting the vaccine, there are other things you can do to prevent the spread of the flu. These include:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover your cough and sneeze — or wear a mask
- Avoid contact with people if you are sick
- Disinfect often-used surfaces
What Treatments Are Available for the Flu?
If you do come down with the flu, the CDC recommends that you stay at home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone. Your doctor will likely prescribe you bed rest, plenty of fluids, and possibly an antiviral drug. Tamiflu is a popular antiviral drug often prescribed to flu patients. It’s possible to get a discount on this and other prescribed drugs with rxless.