Based on recent reports, the flu is spreading fiercely across the United States. In Colorado alone, over 500 people have been hospitalized this season with the flu; the most common strain being Influenza A.
With the virus running rampant, what can you do to stay healthy this winter? Here are 5 tips to beat the bug.
1. Get the Flu Shot
Although it’s ideal to get the shot before flu season begins (ideally in October or November) it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Check with your physician’s office to see if they are offering the flu shot to patients. You can also use handy tools like the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to see what pharmacies and drug stores offer the vaccine in your area.
A few things to note about the flu vaccine—it’s only effective against certain strains of the flu, although officials have said that this year’s vaccine matches the most common influenza strain pretty closely. It also takes about two weeks to become fully effective. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older gets a flu shot. If you are pregnant, getting the flu shot can even help your newborn (read our blog post about pregnancy and flu shots here).
2. Take Precautions—Hand Sanitizer Is Your Friend
During this time of year, it’s important to go the extra step to prevent germs. Regularly wash your hands with hot water and soap. Use hand sanitizer after touching anything that gets a lot of public use, such as elevator buttons or door handles. Keep antibacterial wipes at work to clean items such as your desk or computer keyboard. Look out for items that you use frequently, but don’t always wash or clean, such as water bottles and cell phones.
3. Avoid People With The Flu
What’s the best way to keep from getting sick? Avoid other people that are! When you start hearing someone sniffle, try to stay away as much as you can. If it’s unavoidable (such as the person you live with has the flu), keep your distance and disinfect your house as frequently as possible. Keep everything clean, encourage the other person to rest and take their medicine to speed up their recovery, and sleep in a separate room until the worst is over.
4. Stay Healthy—Prevention is Key!
One of the best ways to stay healthy and build up your immune system is by taking care of your body before you get sick. Get a sufficient amount of sleep, take your vitamins, eat right and exercise. Your body will thank you in the long run, and it could help make the difference in fighting off the flu virus.
5. Take Your Medicine!
Sometimes, getting sick is inevitable, no matter how many steps you take to prevent it. If this is the case, accept your fate and start working on getting better. Take over the counter medicines to help with symptoms such as fever, cough, aches and pains and sinus congestion. Make resting and taking it easy a priority. Stay home to avoid spreading it to others. If your symptoms are really bad or continue to get worse, schedule a visit with your primary care physician so they can determine if you need antiviral medications.