The cooler months are (finally!) just around the corner. To keep you and your loved ones safe from illness, Christopher Moore, MPH, CIC, Infection Prevention Manager for Summerlin Hospital, recommends three key strategies.
“First, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccination unless contraindicated,” said Moore. “Second, teach everyone to cover their sneeze or cough so droplets don’t land on other people or surfaces. And finally, wash your hands frequently. These actions can reduce illness and time away from work, school and fun activities.”
What is the flu?
Flu is short for influenza virus, a contagious respiratory illness that can infect the throat, nose and lungs.
What are flu symptoms?
Flu often comes on suddenly and is accompanied by some or all of the following symptoms: cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills, fatigue and sometimes fever, diarrhea or vomiting.
Who is at a higher risk of catching the flu?
While anyone can get the flu, those at a greater risk are adults 65 and older, pregnant women, children under the age of 5, and those with chronic medical conditions (i.e., diabetes, heart disease).
What happens if I become sick?
If your illness is mild, stay home and avoid contact with others. However, if you are considered high risk, have flu symptoms and/or are very sick or worried about your condition, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Treatment is most effective if medication is started within two days after the illness begins, according to the Centers for Disease Control.*
Flu Prevention Tips
“Prevention is always our number one recommendation,” said Moore. “You can get flu shots at a physician’s office or a local drugstore pharmacy.”
Moore also recommends regular handwashing; keeping hand sanitizer readily available; and regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces — telephones, computer keyboards, doorknobs, car keys, TV remotes, grocery store carts, steering wheels and so on. “Those should be cleaned regularly, but with special attention during flu season,” said Moore.
What About Medications?
If the flu still infiltrates your system, a healthcare provider can prescribe antiviral medications. Antibiotics will not treat the flu; those are used for bacterial infections.
“The fall and winter months are filled with special occasions,” said Moore. “Don’t miss out on the fun because you forgot to get a flu shot.”
*Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Flu: What To Do If You Get Sick