There’s no way around it – cold and flu season is here. Although there’s no way to guarantee you won’t get sick, there are a few flu season safety tips to reduce that possibility. In this article, we’ll briefly discuss the disease, the steps you can take to begin preparing for flu season and what to do if you get sick to increase your chances of staying healthy or recovering more quickly.
- What Is the Flu?
- When Is Flu Season?
- How to Prepare for Flu Season
- What To Do if You Get the Flu
- Frequently Asked Questions About Flu Season
What Is the Flu?
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by several different influenza virus strains. During flu season, you may get infected with flu viruses by inhaling droplets from an infected individual sneezing or coughing. You can also catch the flu by touching a contaminated surface and your face – particularly your eyes, nose or mouth .
When flu season starts, be on the lookout for the following symptoms of the flu virus:
- Fever (Or Feeling Feverish Without an Increased Temperature)
- Sore Throat
- Stuffy or Runny Nose
- Body & Muscle Aches
- Diarrhea (Especially in Children)
It can be easy to mistake flu symptoms for the common cold because many of them are the same. However, be on the lookout for the flu season triad: muscle aches, feeling feverish and cough .
When Is Flu Season?
The flu season can start as early as October and end as late as May. However, peak activity generally happens between December and March, which is why flu season and winter are commonly linked. Since 1982, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has kept track of flu activity in the United States, so the timing is entirely predictable .
While we can predict when flu season starts, there is no way to know how severe the season will be. This is why it’s essential to understand how to prepare for flu season as the colder months approach.
How to Prepare for Flu Season
While most cases are mild, the flu can quickly become a serious medical issue. In the very worst cases, a simple flu can lead to complications that can put individuals at risk of death . Knowing how to prepare for flu season can help protect you and your loved ones from the disease’s worst symptoms. Here are our top four flu season safety tips to keep prepared all season long.
1. Get Your Flu Shot
First and foremost, we urge you to get your flu shot as soon as possible. Getting a yearly flu vaccine is critical in preparing for flu season. The flu is highly contagious – anyone infected can begin spreading the virus for at least a day before their first symptoms present themselves. A flu shot can protect you against the most common strains to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. Additionally, when you get a flu shot, you’re less likely to get severely sick if you do become infected .
The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of six months gets vaccinated every year . The vaccine changes based on predictions for the upcoming flu season and is usually available by October.
2. Wear a Mask
In most cases, it’s best to stay cautious and wear a mask during flu season. Wearing a mask (especially in close indoor settings) may help protect you from influenza A and B – the most common strains responsible for outbreaks during flu season . Masks are manufactured out of a variety of materials and each is designed for different purposes, so selecting the proper mask is an important consideration. This Medical News Today article provides a useful overview of their picks for the best masks for flu prevention. While masks are usually not required for non-healthcare settings, they serve as another strategy to limit the spread of the flu in a community.
3. Keep Your Medicine Cabinet Stocked With Flu Medications
While you’re still healthy, take the time to stock your medicine cabinet with flu medications. When preparing for flu season, it’s important you get rid of any expired flu medications and replace them with fresh ones to ensure you have what you need the second you feel symptoms coming on.
Some common non-prescription flu medications worth keeping in your medicine cabinet include:
- Fever & Pain Medicines: Nurofen
- Decongestants: Beechams Flu Plus
- Antihistamines: Benylin Syrup
- Cough Medicines: Covonia Dry & Tickly Cough
- Nasal Sprays: Sudafed Blocked Nose Spray
- Cough Drops & Throat Lozenges: Covonia Double Impact, Ricola
4. Stock Up on Medical Supplies
Along with flu medications, you can start preparing for flu season by ensuring you’re stocked with all the other supplies you may need. Make sure you have a good digital thermometer and fresh batteries to keep track of your fever. A humidifier may also come in handy to help relieve a stuffy nose and break up mucus. Stocking up on tissues, hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap are also worthwhile precautions when heading into flu season.
What To Do if You Get the Flu
Most people who catch the flu only experience mild symptoms and won’t require serious medical care or antiviral drugs to fight the infection. If you get sick, you should try your hardest to stay home, avoid contact with others and take over-the-counter flu medications until you feel better.
However, specific individuals are at an increased risk of serious flu-related complications and may want to visit a doctor. Those with a higher risk of flu complications include young children under the age of 5, seniors over the age of 65, pregnant women and individuals with certain medical conditions .
Frequently Asked Questions About Flu Season
On top of keeping up to date with flu season safety tips, staying informed about the disease and what you can do to prepare will help keep you protected. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about flu season.
What Month Is Flu Season the Worst?
The data from the CDC shows that over the past 36 years, the most common month for peak flu season activity is February, followed by December, January and March.
What Vitamins Help the Most With the Flu?
Vitamin C, D and Zinc may help enhance your immune system against the flu. However, these vitamins will not help cure the flu. They only serve to complement your central defense system.
Can Probiotics Help During Flu Season?
Yes! Probiotics can help prevent the replication of viruses in the body, stimulating the secretion of antibodies that can help your body prepare for flu season and respiratory infections . Probiotics support a healthy immune system by maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
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