Everything You Need to Know to Stay Healthy During Flu Season
Nearly 200,000 individuals in the U.S. are hospitalized each year due to flu-related complications, leaving many unable to go to work, school, and continue with their daily routines. Here’s everything you need to know to keep your family safe.
How Long Is Flu Season?
Flu season typically begins in the late fall, around November or December, and lasts throughout April. January and February are considered ‘peak season’ for the flu, as most people typically become sick during this time.
How is the Flu Contracted?
The flu is spread by droplets made when someone with the illness coughs, sneezes, or talks. The flu can be transmitted from up to 6 feet away.
You cannot, however, catch the flu from going outside in cold weather — this is a myth. The flu is transmitted more easily in colder temperatures with lower humidity, but it is not the weather itself that makes patients fall ill.
How Do Flu Symptoms Last?
Typically, most patients tend to experience symptoms of the flu for about one to two weeks after initially becoming sick. If your symptoms continue after this period, it’s best to consult your doctor to ensure no secondary infections are present.
Tips to Stay Healthy During Flu Season
Use these preventative measures to keep you and your family healthy throughout cold and flu season.
Get Your Annual Flu Shot
Your best defense against the flu is the flu vaccine, which you should make sure you receive annually. Different strains of the influenza virus are found each year, so if you received a shot last year, it may not protect you from the strains of the virus currently being spread.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Washing your hands frequently and correctly will help ensure any germs are washed away. While many individuals use hand sanitizer as a replacement, it is not as effective as washing your hands with warm, running water.
Eat a Healthy Diet
A diet focused on foods rich in vitamins C and E helps to support a healthy immune system, which is your body’s natural defense against illnesses. Here are some foods you may want to add to your shopping list:
Almonds and peanuts
You should also make an effort to limit your sugar intake, as too much sugar can impair your immune response. That may mean ditching the soda and replacing it with water!
Increasing your water intake can help you lessen your chance of coming down with the flu — and it’s good for your overall health, too. Drinking extra fluids can also fight dehydration if you do find yourself falling ill this season.
Listen to Your Body and Rest
If you do come to catch the flu this season, it’s essential to get proper rest. Attempting to continue your normal activities such as work, school, or sports can put too much pressure on your body.
The best thing for your health and those around you is to stay home and rest when you feel unwell — that way, your body can fight off the flu and you’ll prevent others from becoming exposed to the virus.
Be Mindful of Medications
It can be easy to take too much over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu medications when you’re sick. Make sure that you stick to the recommended dosage and consult your doctor if you have any questions.
Also, be mindful of decongestants labeled ‘all-in-one’ relief options, avoiding any additional fever or pain reduces. Children should not take any medications containing aspirin when diagnosed with the flu.
Seek Medical Attention If Your Symptoms Worsen
While most patients recover from the flu on their own with lots of rest and fluids, a sizeable percentage of individuals in the U.S. experience flu-related complications that can quickly turn into a medical emergency.
If your symptoms last longer than two weeks with no signs of getting better, or you exhibit any of these following symptoms, seek medical attention as soon as possible:
Sudden dizziness or confusion
Fever with a rash
Swelling in the mouth
Lack of urination