The 2018 Flu season is making headlines for its severity and could be among the worst in nearly a decade. New York State’s Department of Health has categorized influenza activity as “widespread” for the seventh consecutive week. Federal officials also expect this heightened level of activity to continue on nationwide for “several more weeks.” People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
This serves as a reminder that there are several steps we can all take that reduce our risk and exposure to this potentially deadly virus. Here are five tips to help you navigate the remainder flu season.
The CDC says the most effective way to beat back the flu virus is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are designed to protect against strains of the virus that research predicts will be most common. The CDC says everyone over the age of 6 months who can get vaccinated, should be. Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for the body to develop the antibodies needed to fight off the virus.
Wash Your Hands
Hand washing is one of the most effective ways to curb the spread of germs. Make sure to wash before, during and after preparing food; before eating food; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
Use warm running water and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to get between your fingers and under your nails, too. If you can’t get to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Coughing and Sneezing? Keep it to Yourself
Remember what Mom always said when it comes to coughing and sneezing: “Cover Your Mouth!” …And make sure to use disposable tissues when you do it. If you don’t have one, try and use your upper sleeve. As always, make sure to wash up or use hand-sanitizer after you’re done.
Take Your Medicine
Already have the flu? If your doctor prescribed antiviral medication, make sure to take it as recommended. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter. Studies show that flu antiviral drugs work best for treatment when they are started within 2 days of getting sick, but starting them later can still be helpful, especially if the patient has a high-risk health condition .
Stay Away if you Don’t Feel Okay
When you’re under the weather, the best course of action is to stay home and rest up. If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
This means no going to the gym to “sweat it out.” When you’re sick, your body is working overtime to fight off whatever ails you. Exercising in this state may wind up overtaxing your system and hinder your ability to fight off your illness.
The same goes for heading into the office. Do you have a meeting that you just can’t miss because you are an all-star employee? These days, we can accomplish quite a bit from home with the help of a laptop and a strong internet connection. Schedule a phone or video conference for your presentation instead. Your supervisors and co-workers will thank you.
Photo Credit: Kelly Hogaboom