You can lower your own chances of getting flu and the opportunity for the disease to spread with a few actions that are very simple:
DON'T GET IT!
- Get vaccinated.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
AND DON'T SPREAD IT!
- Keep your children home from school if they have cough and fever.
- Stay home if you're sick.
- Cover your cough and/or sneezes with a tissue or in your elbow (not with hands).
- Avoid close contact with well people so you won’t make them sick.
- Drink plenty of water/clear liquids.
- Treat fever and cough with acetaminophen or ibuprofen (no aspirin for people under 19).
- See a doctor or visit a clinic in certain situations (see below).
Here are the details.
DON'T GET IT!
Get vaccinated every year, preferably before the flu season, but during it if necessary. (The shot reduces hospitalizations from flu, and being vaccinated can prevent you from getting flu again in the same season.) Although most vaccines confer immunity for many years, the flu viruses mutate so fast that they must be reformulated and reapplied annually. For the past two years, egg allergy has not been considered a contraindication to vaccination.
Health officials and other experts recommend that everyone six months or older have a flu shot. More and more Americans now routinely get them, although according to the Centers for Disease Control, less than 4 in 10 people in the U.S. have been vaccinated this season, which is about average. Officials would like to see this number at or exceeding 50%.
The flu shot works. Literally hundreds of viruses can cause influenza. The antiviral vaccines we get are made from three of the most likely strains of flu virus based on medical predictions. Killed or inactivated viruses can each be used to make the shots. The antivirals in this year's shots match nearly 100% with the influenza A/H3N2 virus present this flu season, 100% with the influenza A/H1N1 virus (which is much less common this year), and about 66.7% with the inflenza B virus (responsible for about 20% of all 2012-2013 seasonal cases).
Government study results released Friday indicate that the vaccine this year is 62% effective, about average for the flu vaccine. Officials also said Friday that vaccines in future years may be available that can combat four strains of flu.
When in public or at home with a sick person: wash your hands often with soap and warm water or hand sanitizers.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, gave Anderson Cooper a great way to remember how long you should keep washing your hands: "With soap and water, wash your hands for two 'Happy Birthday' songs."
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, where viruses congregate and spread, and
Stay away from people who are ill. Unfortunately, some people can be sick for 24 hours before symptoms become obvious.
DON'T SPREAD IT!
Cover your cough and/or sneezes with a tissue or in your elbow (not hands).
Keep your children home from school if they have cough and fever.
See a doctor or visit a clinic in any of these situations. You may need antiviral treatment to reduce symptoms and prevent complications such as otitis media and pneumonia.
- If you are pregnant,
- If the person with flu is less than 2 years of age, or over 65,
- If you have severe, complicated, or progressive illness or if your condition is alarming to you,
- If you have a medical problem (like asthma, diabetes, kidney or heart disease, or immunosuppression) that puts you at high risk of flu complications,
- If you get very sick, or
- If you get well and then the sickness returns (pneumonia can follow severe flu and resembles it).
Stay home if you're sick. No work, school, travel, shopping, social events, or public gatherings such as worship. It will help you to rest and may keep others from catching your virus. CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after you have become fever-free without medicine. Exceptions: to get medical care or for other things no one else can do for you. Wear a facemask if you're sick outside the house, because your illness may endanger others.
Avoid close contact with well people in your house so you won’t make them sick. You may be contagious for seven days after the onset of symptoms.
Treat fever and cough with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. People under 19 with the flu virus should not take aspirin due to the risk of developing Reye's syndrome.
To your good health! HOPE YOU FEEL BETTER SOON!
Based in Chicago, Sandy Dechert recently covered health care issues in the Presidential race and mental and physical health over the holidays. She also reported on Hillary Clinton's recent illness, the fungal meningitis outbreak, and the procedure that saved the life of Good Morning America cohost Robin Roberts.
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