No matter how much you might dislike spring cleaning, mowing the lawn, raking leaves or shoveling snow, of all the seasons – flu season has to be your least favorite.
CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses, so encourage your community to get their flu shots. There are also some everyday actions everyone can take to stop the spread of germs.
QuickNote: Influenza (flu) viruses are most common during the fall and winter, but the season itself is unpredictable and can vary in different parts of the country. In the U.S., most flu activity peaks between December and February.
Quick Tips to Fight the Flu
Help stop the spread of germs by using good hygiene practices. Keep your hands clean and avoid close contact with sick people:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw out the tissue and wash your hands with soap and water.
- If you don’t have a tissue and need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your upper sleeve (not your hands).
- Clean your hands as soon as possible after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Clean your hands often when you or others are sick, especially if you touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Always clean your hands before eating.
QuickTip: Teach your children to use these hygiene practices because germs are often spread at school.
It also helps to disinfect hard surfaces, such as kitchen countertops, tabletops, desktops and bathroom surfaces. Also disinfect surfaces that are touched often. Use sanitizer cloths to wipe electronics, such as phones, computer keyboards, remote controls and handheld games.
How can you tell the difference between a cold and the flu?
In general, the flu is worse than the common cold, and symptoms are more common and intense. Most people don’t develop a fever with a cold, and if they do, it’s mild.
When It’s Too Late: Flu Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of flu usually develop about two days after exposure. Symptoms come on quickly:
- Fever or feeling feverish
- Muscle or body aches
- Feeling very tired (fatigue)
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
Most healthy adults can infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. That means you can give the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Children may be contagious for longer than seven days.
What if you do get the flu?
Get plenty of rest, stay hydrated – and stay home! Avoid close contact with others for 24 hours after your fever is gone. Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, such as Tylenol.
Take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them. They can make your illness milder and you might recover quicker. They may also prevent serious complications, such as pneumonia or bacterial infections.
For more information on various health-related products available to purchase for your community, browse the Quickseries® library of guides, including: Preparing for Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases