Staying Safe During Flu Season
March 25, 2018

woman washing hands to avoid the flu

The flu impacts millions of unsuspecting people each winter, and this flu season is no exception. Health experts are saying the levels of visits to hospitals and emergency rooms for this flu season is comparable to the swine flu epidemic in 2009 with 42 states reporting high volume of flu-related cases.

Most people who get the flu will have a mild case without need for medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks. Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that can result in hospitalization and, in extreme cases, death.

Learn how to keep your family healthy during this year’s flu season for a healthier 2018.


Know Your Risk of Getting Sick

No one is necessarily immune to getting the flu, and certain people are at high risk of developing flu related complications. Those who are most at risk for complications from the flu are:

  1. Children younger than 5 years of age, but especially children younger than 2 years old who have underdeveloped immune systems
  2. Adults 65 years of age and older
  3. Pregnant women
  4. Women up to two weeks postpartum
  5. Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities

Serious risks for people with other health related issues include:

  • People with asthma may experience asthma attacks while sick with the flu virus
  • Those with chronic congestive heart failure may experience a worsening of this condition triggered by the flu virus
  • People with neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke, muscular dystrophy and spinal cord injury.

Staying Healthy at Work

The best way to reduce your risk of exposure to the flu virus in your workplace is to use the basic hygiene precautions listed below and to avoid close contact with those who are ill. If your job involves contact with patients or other healthcare services, then you may need to take additional precautions.

  • Get vaccinated – Vaccination is the most important way to prevent the spread of the flu.
  • Stay home if you are sick – The CDC recommends that workers who have a fever and respiratory symptoms stay at home until 24 hours after their fever ends without the use of medication.
  • Wash your hands – Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or using an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are unavailable.
  • Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes with your hands.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and sanitize your hands immediately after.
  • Clean frequently touched common surfaces such as a phone or computer.
  • Avoid shaking hands with others who may be ill.
  • Speak to your doctor to find out if you are in a high risk category for the seasonal flu.

Major Benefits of a Flu Vaccine

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu virus. While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be the most common for the upcoming flu season. Getting a yearly flu shot can have major benefits like:

  • Reducing the risk of illness
  • Minimizing doctors visits
  • Not missing work and school due to the flu
  • Preventing flu-related hospitalizations
  • Reducing the risk of spreading the flu virus to others around you

What To Do If You Do Get The Flu

If you are sick with flu symptoms including a high fever, runny nose, body aches, headache, tiredness, diarrhea or vomiting, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness and can be prescribed by your doctor. Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics as they are a prescription medicine and are not available over-the-counter. Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick.