With the fall begins the flu season, and this year is anticipated to be especially rough. But there's no need to fret: You can take preventative measures to avoid using up the last of your sick days for staying in bed. In addition to the flu shot, there's plenty of other precautions you can take to avoid falling ill just as the holidays approach.
Expectations for this year's flu season
The U.S. government anticipates that up to 30 percent of our population could fall ill from the flu virus this year. Dr. Richard Webby, a flu expert, even told LiveScience that 2 percent of those who catch the viral infection could be at risk of death due to their symptoms.1 This is a main concern for those with other health complications or who are very young or elderly.
Although vaccination can be a great way for avoiding the flu this season, it's not always the answer. In some cases, the strain you come in contact with is not included, leaving you at risk. Additionally, symptoms associated with the flu depend based on the severity of the specific strain contracted. For instance, the bird flu is much more dangerous than most others. So, what other preventative measures can you take?
Maintain healthy habits to help lower flu risk
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention greatly support vaccination from the flu. On top of that, the CDC recommends that the population conduct positive health habits to avoid contracting and spreading of the virus.2 During flu season, you will want to:
- Stay home when you are sick! One of the most likely causes of a flu pandemic is the infected going to work, school and on errands in spite of their conditions. Not only are you likely to get better faster if you stay in bed and rest, but you can prevent spreading the virus to others you come in contact with.
- Avoid those who are ill. If you're feeling OK, be sure to keep your distance from someone who is expressing cold and flu-like symptoms. Just because they didn't stay home, doesn't mean you should have to suffer.
- Keep your hands clean. Think of all that you touch in a given day and you will realize that your hands are filthy! So, regularly washing your hands can go a long way in preventing germs from making you ill. Additionally, you should keep alcohol-based hand cleaners on you at all times – for when you don't have access to soap and water.
Other beneficial health habits include keeping your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth, and covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. These are prime times for spreading infection that can lead to the flu.
In preparation for a flu pandemic, health care professionals can purchase supplies to prevent infection from Medex Supply.
1 LiveScience, "Pandemic flu plan predicts 30 percent of US could fall ill" September 17, 2013
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Preventing the flu: Good health habits can help stop germs" January 11, 2013