The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends several actions to fight the flu, especially during cold and flu season. Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, can be deadly. People at high risk for developing complications associated with the flu include small children, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic diseases and illnesses.
Below are five common ways to avoid the flu this season. Though we’ve all heard these recommendations before, sometimes a simple reminder can keep us on our toes. Remember, the best defense against influenza is prevention.
- Wash your hands. Thorough hand washing sessions is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of influenza. Unfortunately, many people only wash their hands before they eat or following a trip to the bathroom. Frequent hand washing throughout the day removes bacteria and virus germs from the hands. Remember to scrub your hands for at least fifteen seconds at a time. Use alcohol-based sanitizers if anti-bacterial soap is unavailable. Keep hand sanitizers at your desk and use every couple hours when water is unavailable.
- Keep your coughs contained. There’s more to covering your mouth when you sneeze if you want to prevent the spread of germs or protect yourself from receiving germs. Rather than using your hand when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the garbage immediately following use. Never keep used tissues around for contamination reasons. If tissues are unavailable, using the inner crook of your elbow can prevent germs from spreading. It is also important to avoid touching your mouth and nose with your hands, especially if they have not been sanitized.
- Keep surfaces clean. Think of the areas that come in contact with your hands daily. Now, clean those surfaces. Keep keyboards, desks, phones, and television remotes disinfected. Door handles, desk drawers, refrigerator handles, and even your keys may all benefit from being wiped down with a disinfectant wipe. When using a grocery cart at the store, use an anti-bacterial wipe to disinfect the handle. All surfaces and objects that are routinely touched may be contaminated with germs like influenza. If you keep these areas clean, you lower your risk of coming into contact with the flu.
- Avoid large crowds. It may be impossible to avoid crowds, but if the option is available, choose to stay at home rather than gather where people congregate. Daycare centers, schools, office buildings, and public transportation are common places flu germs may be acquired. If at all possible, avoid crowds during the peak flu season. By doing so, you reduce your risk of infection.
- Take time to get vaccinated. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccines as the most important step in fighting flu viruses. If you work in a crowded place and are around large groups of people, it is especially important to get a vaccination. Getting a flu vaccine can decrease the number of doctor’s visits you make throughout the year and prevent you from having to miss school or work.
To receive your flu shot this season visit Associated Internists of Macomb P.C. located in Suite 300. No appointment is needed; just call ahead so that we can pull your chart. For more information call us at (586) 726-5566.