The flu is a respiratory infection that affects many people each year. Anyone can get the virus, which can cause mild to severe symptoms.
Common symptoms of the flu include:
- body aches
- runny nose
- sore throat
1. Avoid large crowds
Avoiding large crowds can often be difficult, but it’s crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a typical year, if you’re able to limit contact with people during flu season, you can reduce your risk of getting an infection.
The flu can spread quickly in confined spaces. This includes schools, workplaces, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities.
If you have a weaker immune system, wear a face mask whenever you’re in a public place during flu season.
2. Wash your hands regularly
Because the flu virus can live on hard surfaces, get into a habit of regularly washing your hands. This is especially important before preparing food and eating. Also, you should always wash your hands after using the bathroom.
Carry a bottle of hand sanitizing gel with you, and sanitize your hands throughout the day when soap and water are unavailable.
You should do this after coming into contact with commonly touched surfaces, including:
- light switches
3. Strengthen your immune system
Strengthening your immune system is another way to protect yourself against the flu. A strong immune system helps your body fight off infections. And if you do become sick, a strong immune system helps reduce the severity of symptoms.
To build your immunity, sleep at least 7 to 9 hours per night. Also, maintain a regular physical activity routine — at least 30 minutes, three times a week.
4. Get an annual flu vaccination
Make sure you get a flu vaccination each year. The predominant circulating flu virus changes from year to year, so you’ll need to update your vaccination each year.
Keep in mind that it takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to be effective. If you get the flu after a vaccination, the shot may reduce the severity and duration of your illness.
5. Clean and disinfect surfaces
The current COVID-19 pandemic may have already gotten you into good cleaning and hygiene practices.
If someone in your home has the flu, you can reduce your risk of contracting it by keeping surfaces in your house clean and disinfected. This can kill flu germs.
The flu virus is dangerous in the elderly and more vulnerable populations and can lead to life threatening complications. Take preventive steps to protect yourself and reduce the risk of illness, especially this year.
Talk to your doctor about getting a flu vaccination, and be proactive about strengthening your immune system and avoiding contact with symptomatic people.