Flu Season Tips
Influenza, known as “the flu,” is caused by a virus that spreads from person to person. The flu is easily transmitted by coughing or sneezing from infected persons. Every time someone coughs or sneezes, they send germs into the air at speeds faster than 100 mph. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose.
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
However, there are ways you can help prevent the spread of the flu and colds in the workplace and at home.
Preventing the Flu: Get Vaccinated
The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccination each fall. There are two types of vaccines: the “flu shot” – approved for use in people six months of age and older, and the nasal spray type flu vaccine – for use in healthy people five years to 49 years of age who are not pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about getting the flu vaccine.
In addition to the vaccine, the following actions can help decrease the spread of colds and flu this season.
Wash Your Hands
This simple measure is one of your best defenses!
Make sure you are washing correctly
Cover hands with warm water and soap – rub hands vigorously together and scrub all surfaces – wash for at least 20 seconds -– it’s the soap combined with scrubbing action that helps dislodge and remove germs. An easy way to remind yourself how long you need to wash is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song to yourself. If you can’t wash your hands, then consider using a hand sanitizer (alcohol hand gel). Be sure to keep these products out of the reach of children.
Always Cover Your Mouth and Nose When You Cough or Sneeze
Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes with unwashed hands. Dispose of used tissues in a bag or lined wastebasket. Wipe common area surfaces with disinfectant wipes when possible. Telephones, handrails, doorknobs, and keyboards are notorious for germs, and the influenza virus can survive on surfaces for several hours. Also, try to avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay home if you are sick!
Do I Have the Flu?
Many people use the term “the flu” to describe cold symptoms and other types of illnesses. In reality, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. About 5-20 percent of the population in the U.S. gets the flu each year. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications each season, and about 36,000 people die from the flu. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Influenza?
Abrupt onset of fever
Runny or stuffy nose
Stomach symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are more common in children than adults. Also remember that antibiotics are not effective in treating viral infections like colds and flu. In fact, overuse of antibiotics can cause bacteria to become resistant to treatment!
For further information on the flu, go to cdc.gov.