The seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza (flu) viruses. Fortunately, there are several steps you and your loved ones can take to avoid getting the flu or spreading it to others.
Sleepy Eye Medical Center, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommend the following three steps to prevent the flu.
1. Take time to get a flu vaccine.
Getting a flu shot is one of the most effective ways you can avoid getting the flu and spreading it to others. Flu vaccinations can reduce flu illnesses and prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Annual vaccination is especially important for pregnant women, children 6 months of age and above, older people, and individuals with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease.Flu vaccinations are available at all SEMC locations. To schedule an appointment to get your flu shot, call 507-794-3691.
2. Take everyday preventative measures to stop the spread of germs.
Most experts believe that flu viruses are spread most often by droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might get flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
For these reasons, it is important to take precautionary steps to prevent contracting or spreading the flu, including:
- Stay home if you aren’t feeling well. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone.
- Keep your children home if they are ill.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth—germs spread this way.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue. Throw the tissue away immediately after use.
- Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, or use an alcohol-based sanitizer.
3. Take flu antiviral drugs if your provider prescribes them.
Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue. Some people may also experience vomiting and diarrhea. If you get the flu, an antiviral medication may be prescribed by your provider. Antivirals can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. In addition, they may prevent serious flu complications. According to the CDC, antiviral treatment can be the difference between a milder illness and one that could lead to a hospital stay for people with high-risk factors. As always, follow your providers’s instructions when taking antivirals and any other drugs.
For additional resources about the seasonal flu, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.