The flu is an often serious respiratory infection that can cause fever, sore throat, coughing, and body-wide aches and pains. Most people recover without lasting side effects, but elderly patients and infants are more likely to die from the flu. Even as a younger person, the flu can keep you out of work for a week or more! So, what can you do to protect yourself and your family members from this viral catastrophe? Follow these three steps.
Get the Flu Shot
The Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone age 6 months and older get the influenza vaccine every year. You need a new vaccine each season because the flu shot is always reformulated according to the newest, most common strains of the virus. Most pharmacies and doctor's offices offer the flu vaccine either free of charge or very inexpensively.
Some people avoid the flu vaccine because they believe they can get the flu from the shot. However, the flu vaccine contains a weakened form of the virus; it cannot give you the flu. People who think they get the flu from the flu shot were simply exposed to the flu virus before the vaccine had a chance to take effect.
Clean More Often
The flu virus is spread whenever someone carrying the virus coughs or sneezes. The viral particles may land on surfaces, like door knobs and counters, and then be picked up when you touch those surfaces. If you then touch your mouth or nose, you'll be infected. Clean all of the surfaces in your home more often to help protect your family from the flu. Make sure the cleaning solution you use kills viruses.
People can spread the flu virus even before they start showing symptoms, so don't skip cleaning just because nobody in your home seems sick yet.
Get Better Sleep
A lack of sleep impairs the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off the flu virus if you do happen to be exposed. So many people are sleep deprived. This season, focus on getting more and better sleep, and encourage your family members to do the same. Decide on a bedtime, and stick to that bedtime each night. Get into the habit of putting your phone down an hour before bed so that you have an easier time drifting off. Prioritize sleep over staying up late to catch a TV show or engage in other hobbies.
For more information about immunizations, contact a local clinic like Nacogdoches Family Medicine.