Each year, flu season in the United States results in between 140,000 and 710,000 hospital admissions. Since 2010, between 10,000 and 50,000 people have died each year as a result. Although we have come a long way in preventing and treating the flu, those figures suggest we can do more. If you’re ready to tackle flu season, here are four ways to do so:
Get your flu jab, if you can
As the flu virus adapts each year, it’s difficult to create one that covers all strains. However, those who work hard to develop the flu vaccine target the most prevalent strains. As a result, you may not achieve blanket protection, but you will keep many strains at bay. Aim to get your jab by the end of October.
Exercising vigilance during the flu season
If someone you know shows symptoms of the flu or receives a diagnosis, exercise vigilance. Even if you do receive your jab by the end of October it’s wise to steer away from those who catch it, providing it’s possible to do so. Flu symptoms include:
- Developing a fever of 100-degrees or higher (although not everyone does)
- Malaise (feeling very tired)
- Aches (aka myalgia)
- A runny nose, sore throat, and/or cough
- Small children may also develop vomiting or diarrhea
If you suspect you have the flu or you have a diagnosis, minimize its spread by staying away from work and don’t enter a hospital. Your doctor may provide anti-viral medications. Although they won’t prevent it from spreading, they can shorten the illness slightly.
Make friends with hand hygiene
The flu virus spreads through respiratory droplets, making it difficult to avoid. Unfortunately, some adults will spread the virus between each other in the 24 hours before it develops. While you can’t guess who’s carrying it, you can practice good hand hygiene.
Aside from washing your hands after the toilet and after handling certain substances, use hand sanitizer. A study published in 2014 in Food and Environmental Virology found that those who regularly used alcohol-based hand sanitizer reduced the presence of the flu virus on their hands by 97 to 99-percent. Place pumps around your home and carry a small bottle with you when you leave the house. Use it three times a day to see the same effect as the study’s participants.
Take good care of your nose, society will thank you for it
Finally, try to remain conscious of your nose touching habits throughout the day. If you find yourself touching yours, pull out your hand sanitizer and apply it. Worried about developing dry hands? Don’t. Using a hand cream regularly will offset some of the effects, without rendering your efforts pointless. If you feel yourself starting to sneeze, try to sneeze into the crook of your arm. When you aim there, you’re less likely to spread the flu virus to other surfaces suing your hands.
While flu season is unavoidable, you can use some common sense techniques to make sure it isn’t a problem. This year’s flu vaccine will protect you against the three most common strains for the 2018-2019 season. Get your jab, remain vigilant, and stay hygienic.