It’s that time of year again – cold and flu season. The sore throat and cough common with a cold and the fatigue and muscle aches associated with the flu can make this time of year miserable for many people. However, you can reduce your chances of sneezing through the season by following these tips.
There is no cure for the common cold or the flu. However, there are ways to help stop symptoms before they start.
- Wash your hands – it’s one of the best ways to prevent getting sick. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help rub away germs if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Strengthen your body’s defenses by exercising and eating a well-balanced diet.
- Avoid people who have a cold or the flu, especially if they have a fever.
- Get vaccinated – it’s the best way to prevent getting the flu. Primary care physician offices, as well as at many pharmacies offer flu shots. People who are allergic to eggs, or have had a severe reaction in the past, should not get a flu shot. If you have questions, consult your doctor.
These common flu myths sometimes keep people from getting the vaccine:
Myth: I will get the flu from the flu shot.
Facts: The flu shot, or inactivated flu vaccine, is made from killed virus and cannot give you the flu. It takes about 10 days to get protected against flu after being vaccinated, so you are susceptible to the flu during that time. Most people have no side effects from the flu vaccine; some may have soreness, redness or tenderness at the injection site.
Myth: I never get sick, so I don’t need the flu shot.
Facts: Each year in the United States, five to 20 percent of the population is infected with influenza. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and up to 49,000 people die from flu-related complications each year. You may be one of the lucky people that are infected with the flu virus but able to fight off the illness – yet you are still able to spread the virus to others.
Myth: I can’t pass the flu on to others if I stay home when I’m sick.
Fact: People can spread the flu three to five days before showing any symptoms.
Myth: You can catch the flu from going out in cold weather without a coat or with wet hair or by sitting near a drafty window.
Facts: The only way to catch the flu is by being exposed to the influenza virus. Flu season coincides with the cold weather. So people often associate the flu with a cold, drafty environment. But, they are not related.
Myth: The flu shot will cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
Facts: The swine flu vaccine in 1976 was associated with GBS. Since then, no flu vaccine has been clearly linked to GBS. Each year, 3,000 to 6,000 persons will get GBS whether or not they get a flu shot. Influenza infection itself can lead to GBS.
Take Care of Yourself
If you do get sick, treat your symptoms and get plenty of rest. Stay home from work or school so you don’t infect others. In most cases, you will feel better in a few weeks. In some instances, however, flu symptoms can turn serious. Contact your doctor if you experience prolonged fever, symptoms that last for more than 10 days, trouble breathing, or pain or pressure in your chest.
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment visit Steward DoctorFinder™ or call 1-800-488-5959.
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment, visit Steward DoctorFinder™.