Over the past decade, anywhere from 9.3 million to 49 million people got sick with the flu.
The world may be focused on fighting COVID, but keeping our guard up against the flu is also important – especially for at-risk populations such as the elderly, children, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system.
Odds are you – or someone you know, is at risk of getting severely ill from the flu. That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep yourself and others safe. The best way to do that is to prepare in advance for the next flu season.
Here’s how to keep yourself and others safe during flu season.
Know the Symptoms
First, you can prepare for the flu season by knowing what the symptoms of the flu are.
Common flu symptoms include:
- Fever, including cold chills or sweating
- Dry, persistent cough that can last for 2 weeks
- Muscle aches
The flu shares symptoms with the common cold. However, the symptoms are more severe and can lead to additional health problems such as ear infections, sepsis, pneumonia, and sinusitis.
Practice Healthy Habits
Keeping yourself healthy and strong is good for your overall health, and can help prevent yourself from getting the flu.
Healthy habits include getting enough sleep, regular exercise, and eating a healthy diet. Talk to your doctor for more specific advice on foods and exercises that are safe for you.
It’s never too late to transition to a healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t already practicing healthy habits, it’s time to get started. Flu season in the US. occurs during the Fall and Winter seasons, so there’s still time to incorporate healthy habits in time for this season and next season.
Keep Your Distance
If you notice someone who is sick, keep your distance and avoid close contact. Likewise, if you get sick, stay home and keep your distance from others to avoid spreading your illness.
Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing can also prevent the spread of germs. Wearing a mask can not only prevent you from spreading germs, but it can prevent you from breathing in particles from others.
Germs are often spread when someone touches a contaminated object and then touches their face (especially their eyes, nose, or mouth). That’s why it’s important to avoid touching your face. You can get a step further and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Regular hand washing is important too, provided you do it correctly. If soap and water aren’t available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Vaccines Are Still the Best Way to Protect Yourself
The best way to protect yourself against the flu is by getting vaccinated. The flu shot can not only prevent you from catching the flu, but it can also reduce the severity of symptoms if you get the flu.
Every year the flu vaccine is updated to protect against the most dominant strains of the virus. The vaccine triggers your body’s antibodies, which protect against influenza.
The vaccine prevents millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and deaths.
Prepare for Flu Season Every Year
Our guide to the flu is good for every flu season. While no method is foolproof, you can always minimize your risks of catching the flu by getting vaccinated and practicing other healthy habits.
For more flu and cold tips, check out other articles in our Health section.