The flu is a familiar condition for many. That miserable fever, cough, achiness and general fatigue are commonly recognized although often downplayed. Unfortunately, the flu is not a condition to be taken lightly. Every year, between 5 – 20% of our population is diagnosed with the flu and over 200,000 are hospitalized. The flu can even be deadly. So how can we protect ourselves against such a common condition? Follow these five easy steps.
- Get a flu shot. The most important protection against the flu is a flu shot. Contact your physician to schedule your vaccination or find out about free vaccination programs locally. It is a common misconception that the flu shot will get you sick. While some people may experience a few mild symptoms of the flu in the days following the vaccination, your immunization will ultimately protect you against the most common flu strains that season.
- Fight germs. Make hand washing a priority in your home. Encourage your children to wash hands at school and when they return home. Have them change out of school clothes, and when they cough, make sure they always do so into their elbows. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used when hand washing is not an option.
- Know the symptoms. Be sure that you are familiar with flu symptoms. If you or a family member begins to show signs of the flu, see your physician immediately.
- Get treated. If you have the flu and your physician prescribes antiviral medication, be sure to take it as directed. This medication is not an antibiotic or a cure for the flu, but it can reduce the length and severity of the flu significantly.
- Stay Home. If you or a family member is sick with the flu, be sure to stay home. Do not return to school or work until you or your family member has been fever-free for 24 hours.
Brandon Regional Medical Center makes flu prevention and your wellness a priority. Do you have questions about how you can protect your family against the flu? Would you like to schedule an appointment for a flu shot? Please call our free Consult-A-Nurse® service at 1-888-327-2636.