Flu season can start as early as October and last as late as May, but it usually peaks in January and February. These are the months you will want to take extra precautions to stay healthy. The following tips can help prevent the flu:
- Get the flu vaccine. The vaccine is the best way to prevent the seasonal flu. Because the flu virus is different each year, you'll need a new vaccine at the beginning of each flu season.
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Try to keep from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Your hands pick up germs, which will make you sick if they get into your eyes, nose, or mouth.
- Try to avoid contact with sick people. If you are around people who are sick, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
- Do not share food, eating utensils, or dishes without washing thoroughly first.
- Keep your immune system healthy by getting plenty of sleep and exercise, managing your stress, eating healthy foods, and drinking plenty of fluids.
- Try to avoid crowds. You can reduce your chance of infection if you can avoid areas like public buildings, crowded restaurants, and public transportation during peak flu season. You can catch the flu virus from up to six feet away when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks.
- If you get the flu, stay home for at least twenty-four hours after your fever is gone. This will keep you from spreading the flu to others.
- If you've been exposed to the flu, see your health care provider as soon as possible. Antiviral drugs may be available to prevent you from becoming ill. However, treatment works best if it begins shortly after exposure. Your health care provider can tell you if the prescription treatment is right for you.