Fall is upon us again. The kids are back in school, football is back in full swing, and cold and flu season is beginning to ramp up. Here are some helpful tips to minimize your chances of contracting these annoying and potentially dangerous viruses:
- The most important action you can take in preparation for the winter flu season is to get your flu vaccine early. The vaccine takes two weeks to take effect, so the CDC recommends that you and your family get your vaccine before the end of October. For more information on types of vaccines and who should and shouldn’t receive a flu vaccine, see www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm
- Regular exercise, a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, and adequate sleep have all been shown to reduce your chance of contracting common colds and influenza
- Make sure to wash your hands frequently and use good hand-washing technique. Utilize alcohol-based hand sanitizer for those times when a sink is unavailable. And try not to rub your nose and eyes, as the mucous membranes in these locations can provide viruses with easy access to the rest of your body.
- If you suspect that you have the flu, get to your primary care doctor or to an urgent care clinic early in the course of the illness. A flu swab is a quick and accurate way to diagnose the flu and will lead to prompt antiviral treatment, which is most effective in the first 48 hours of the illness. Common signs of influenza include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, headache, fatigue, and muscles aches.
- If you do have the flu, it is important that you stay home from work for a full 24 hours after your fever has subsided (temperature less than 100 degrees F).