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Six Ways to Prevent the Flu

659x519-ca-kid-washing-hands-aaGetting the flu can be more than a miserable experience. Complications can include bacterial pneumonia, ear or sinus infections and worsening of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or congestive heart failure. Because everyone has the potential of getting the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a flu shot for anyone 6 months of age and older. In addition, practice six health habits to help protect yourself and others:

  1. Keep your distance. Stay away from people who are sick. And if you are ill, stay home from work, school and running errands where you may expose others to illness.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth. If you sneeze or cough, cover yourself with a tissue or the crook of your arm if a tissue isn’t nearby. The point is to keep the germs close by and not spread to others.
  3. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose. Germs are everywhere – computer keyboards, elevator buttons and door handles are just a few of the places they can be found. You want to eliminate ways that germs can get into your body.
  4. Wash your hands frequently. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse well and dry with a clean towel or air dry. If soap and water aren’t available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is an alternative.
  5. Be conscious of good health habits. Stay as healthy as possible to keep up your immune system. Eat a balanced diet, drink fluids, get plenty of sleep and be physically active. As much as possible, manage stress.
  6. Keep a clean environment. It might be time to step up your game with regard to keeping frequently-touched surfaces clean at home, school and work. Flu virus can live for up to 48 hours on surfaces, so be aware of germs when you’re touching surfaces in public.

Difference Between Cold and Flu

When you feel ill, it may be difficult to know if you have the flu or just a cold. Both are viruses, but the flu is worse than a cold. You doctor may run a test to be certain. Below are general symptoms from the CDC:

Signs and Symptoms

Influenza

Cold

Symptom onset

Abrupt

Gradual

Fever

Usual

Rare

Aches

Usual

Slight

Chills

Fairly common

Uncommon

Fatigue, weakness

Usual

Sometimes

Sneezing

Sometimes

Common

Stuffy nose

Sometimes

Common

Sore throat

Sometimes

Common

Chest discomfort, cough

Common

Mild to moderate

Headache

Common

Rare

 

Take care of yourself and stay well!

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