This year’s strain of influenza has proven to be much harsher than any we’ve seen in years. It’s highly contagious and packs a wallop when you catch it. Symptoms range from body aches and chills, to fever and cough.
You can reduce the odds of catching this nasty bug by taking a few precautions, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC):
Get a flu shot
It’s not too late, and this year’s vaccine is a good match for the virus that’s circulating. The shot takes 10-14 days for full effectiveness, but your resistance will build up gradually during that period.
Wash your hands — a lot
Washing your hands with good old soap and water or a sanitizing gel is one of the best things you can do to prevent the spread of germs. Germs lurk on surfaces such as door knobs and table tops, so it’s especially critical to wash before eating.
Don’t touch your face
Touching your face — particularly your eyes, nose, or mouth —risks transporting germs from your hands to inside your body. That’s good for the bugs, but bad for you.
Air in homes and offices is generally drier during winter months. Drink lots of liquids, especially water, to keep your body well hydrated.
Catch some shuteye
The body needs sleep, and most of us don’t get enough. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, your first defense against sickness.
If you can, avoid contact with sick people (or wear a mask). If you’re especially concerned, staying out of crowded places, such as malls or movie theaters, can help reduce your exposure.
If you still become ill, call your primary care provider. If it appears you have influenza (as opposed to a stomach bug that’s also circulating), he or she may prescribe an antiviral to help you recover more quickly.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/flu