With the fall season upon us in North America, it also marks the beginning of the flu season. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, on average, 5 percent to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from seasonal flu-related complications.
Here are a few pointers to help prevent you and your family from getting sick this flu season.
The single best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated each year. In addition, the following health habits can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like the flu:
- Avoid close contact – avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick – if possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick to prevent infecting others with your illness
- Cover your mouth and nose – cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (or your sleeve if you don’t have a tissue) when coughing or sneezing
- Clean your hands – washing your hands frequently will help protect you from germs (if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth – germs often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches his or her eyes, nose or mouth
- Practice other good health habits – clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill
- Sleep – get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat healthy foods
For more information about avoiding the flu and for a helpful checklist from the Red Cross, click here: www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m4340140_SeasonalFluChecklist.pdf.