While you may want to consider seeing your doctor when you start to have a fever, cough, sore throat, there are many things you and your family can do to prevent catching and spreading cold and flu viruses.
With cold and flu season officially in full swing, Dr. Emily Lorch, internist at Westmed, shares the best ways to prevent getting a cold or the flu this year:
Action 1: The flu vaccine is the single best way to reduce your likelihood of catching the flu. Studies show that even if someone gets the flu after vaccination, it will be a milder case. The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older, with any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccine (CDC).
Action 2: Avoid close contact with sick people. Some otherwise healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5 to 7 days after becoming sick.
Action 3: Stay home when you are sick to prevent the spread of illness. The CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone (without the use of medicine), except to go to your doctor. If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.
Action 4: Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. Flu and colds are spread by droplets which can spread up to 6 feet away. The viruses can also spread on surfaces, so make sure to disinfect frequently touched areas, especially when someone is ill.
Action 5: Get lots of rest, eat healthy and exercise. Getting enough sleep and reducing stress can help to strengthen your immune system to prevent flu.
Action 6: Wash your hands. Next to getting your vaccine, handwashing is the most important way to avoid contracting a respiratory virus or the flu. If soap and water are not available, you can use hand sanitizer, make sure it is at least 60% alcohol based.
If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, you can schedule it online in minutes.