We are in peak flu season, with the most prevalent times to get the flu being in the months between December and February. Don’t think you are out of the woods just because you didn’t get sick during peak flu season. With more than 36,000 people dying from the flu each year, developing a plan of prevention is important.
Here are our top 5 tips on how to prevent flu and its spreading in 2019:
How to Prevent Flu
Tip #1: Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is the number one way to prevent getting and spreading the flu this season. Clean hands prevent flu germs from moving from person to person. Flu germs are estimated to remain on surfaces like counters and doorknobs for up to 24 hours. This leaves a lot of exposure to your family or others in public areas that come in contact with anything you touched while exposed.
You may already feel like you wash your hands a lot when in the kitchen or before leaving the bathroom. However, if you are working in a public environment, taking the time to wash your hands every hour will greatly reduce your chances of spreading the germs.
Interesting fun fact: my grandmother was told by her doctor to sing Happy Birthday when washing her hands. When you get to the end of the song, you can rinse. It gives you the timing to kill germs. She’s 100 so every day is Happy Birthday and we happily sing it often.
Tip #2: Get Vaccinated
While the flu vaccine isn’t perfect and won’t prevent you from contracting every strain of the flu, it greatly reducing your chances of getting sick or severely sick. There is a flu shot is available for everyone through age 64. A nasal spray is offered for people ages 2 through 49 who are healthy and not allergic to the flu vaccine. Egg-free vaccines exist as do a high-dose vaccine for seniors over the age of 65.
Alright, honestly, I don’t get vaccinated. I’ve tried over the years but then seem to be down for the county for weeks. But those around me get vaccinated and I believe the butterfly effect of reducing incidents helps the broader public. That’s my opinion – I know there is a huge debate on vaccines of all sorts. I’ll repeat, it is my opinion and is subject to someone’s reaction to vaccines, personal and religious view.
So, keep the roasting for marshmallows on that cold winter night.
Tip #3: Avoid Close Contact with People
Keep your distance from others when possible. Sure, you can’t help people being in your personal space on the airplane or subway, but you don’t need to give everyone a hug this flu season. Do that air hug and avoid contact. While flu germs can spread through coughing and sneezing, you’re doing yourself a solid favor by not getting too close to people.
If this gives you an excuse to not give Uncle Benny a hug at the next family reunion, he’ll still look at you oddly but at least you’ll have an excuse. If you want to make a point, grab a surgical mask and wear it. It lets others know that you are probably a germ-a-phob or sick. Either way, you’ll be happy to escape flu season without Uncle Benny’s version of the bug.
Tip #4: Stay Home if Sick
Sick? Stay home. It doesn’t matter what you think you have. If it’s a cold, don’t risk it becoming the flu because your immune system is down. If you do have the flu, staying home will prevent complications from creeping in. The fatigue of the flu only gets worse if you try to keep up with your normal daily life. Taking a few days off is better than being down for a month.
I know. You’re reading this so you don’t get sick but it also helps prevent spreading the flu germs. I know deep down in your heart you care about your family, friends, co-workers and even that weird dude at the coffee shop that always waves. Think of it this way, staying home will prevent one day of getting that weird wave and you can catch up on Netflix binge shows.
Tip #5: Practice Good Health Habits
Good health habits should be part of your day-to-day activities and not something you do to prevent flu symptoms and spreading. With that said, take the time to make sure you are keeping your home and stuff clean. Do an extra load of laundry and change those sheets. Wipe down counter tops with disinfectant wipes and clean door nobs and handles.
Did you know your cell phone carries tons of germs – probably comparable to that subway bathroom. In fact, doctors have specialized doohickeys that they set their phones into to kill the germs. Some magical infrared stuff or something.
I only know this because my surgeon was excited to show me pictures of my knee surgery and I wondered why the heck they allowed that filthy cell phone in my operating room. Turns out surgeons either take a lot of photos during surgery or get a lot of phone calls. Let’s not read any deeper into that.
Importance of Preventing Flu
You may not be concerned with getting the flu. Of the more than 200,000 people who are hospitalized each year for flu symptoms, the majority are vulnerable. Children, elderly and those with compromised immune systems are more likely to suffer the worst symptoms leading to hospitalization and potential death.
You can do your part during the flu season, 2019 to prevent yourself and others from getting the flu. By maintaining good habits, especially if you are sick, you are potentially saving a life.
How Long Does Flu Last?
Most people who get the flu with have symptoms for a 3 to 7 days. The entire flu process can take up to two weeks. During this time, you will feel weak, have a dry cough and feel fatigued.
Mucous and congestion build up and you will experience a runny nose, coughing, maybe even wheezing if you are asthmatic. Many people complain about a scratchy throat and may even lose their voice for a period of time.
Those with immune problems may have more extreme symptoms and should see a doctor at the onset of flu symptoms to prevent bigger health issues from developing.
Cold and Flu Prevention: Take Tamiflu Quickly
Tamiflu is the brand name of the antiviral medication called oseltamivir phosphate. No wonder they shorten these things. It’s for people ages two weeks and older. While it is preventive in nature, Tamiflu taken within the first 48 hours of flu symptoms can shorten and lessen the effect of contracting the flu.
You’ll need a doctor to prescribe Tamiflu. They will perform a nasal swab test to see if you have the virus. If you do, you’ll be given the prescription.
Final Thoughts on Flu Season and Flu Prevention
Keeping the flu in check this flu season is everyone’s responsibility. Even if you don’t want or condone vaccines, think about all the other ways you can help prevent the spreading of the flu. It might not be you that gets sick, but think about your children, grandparents and that nice old lady who gives your dog a treat when you walk by. These are the people at real risk. You can make a difference.