Fight the Flu: The top 7 ways to avoid the flu

Fight the Flu: The top 7  ways to avoid the flu

There’s an abundance of information available to us regarding the flu (influenza) virus and flu vaccines and we should be careful when choosing which sources to trust.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a favorite among health care providers. The CDC website has information on lots of topics and it’s easy to read and understand. Their recommendation on the flu vaccine is that everyone 6 months of age and older be vaccinated, calling it “the best protection from the flu.” Along with getting your yearly flu vaccine, there are other things you can do to keep you and your loved ones from becoming sick.

The CDC lists six things you can do to prevent the flu and stop germs from spreading in addition to receiving a yearly flu vaccine.

  1. Avoid close contact with those who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick, too. If someone in your home has a flu-like illness, try to keep them in a separate room from others in the household, if this is feasible.
  2. Stay home. If possible, stay home from work, school, church and errands when you are sick, at least until you have been fever-free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
  3. Wash your hands! I can’t say it enough…this is the #1 way to prevent the spread of the flu virus. We should wash our hands often, especially after coughing, sneezing or touching public surfaces like shopping carts, ATM machines, etc.
  4. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. The flu virus is spread through respiratory droplets, so if you cough or sneeze and someone inhales these droplets they can become sick. The flu virus is very contagious and spreads quickly!
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. If you have flu germs on your hands (from touching a shopping cart, ATM machine, etc.) and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, you can become sick.
  6. Practice other good health habits by cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially during flu season. Cell phones, computer keyboards and desk phones can harbor germs, so it’s a good idea to clean these items often.

Then, there are the things we should always be doing to stay healthy, like getting at least eight (8) hours of sleep per night, being physically active, drinking plenty of water and eating a balanced diet.

Taking these steps to stay healthy can reduce illnesses, doctors’ visits, missed work and school due to sickness, as well as preventing flu-related hospitalizations.

The flu vaccine is readily available through Marshall Health clinics, your local health department and retail pharmacies. For a list of Marshall Health clinics where the flu vaccine is available, please visit http://marshallhealth.org/patients/flu-shots/.

To learn more about the flu vaccine or other health topics, please visit www.cdc.gov.

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Diane Alcorn, RN, BSN

Diane is the clinical coordinator for the division of occupational health & wellness at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. She graduated from the Marshall University School of Nursing and has worked in Marshall’s department of family medicine since 1996.

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