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Prepare yourself for flu season

October 9, 2014

Fall is a beautiful time of the year. Pumpkins, apples and foliage all help set the stage for a lovely scene that is perfect for family bonding activities. However, the season also brings with it the flu and other illnesses that can quickly ruin the fun of the changing temperatures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus spreads through droplets from infected peoples' coughs and sneezes, and it can also exist on contaminated surfaces.

The source noted that some people can infect others before they even know they have it. The virus can begin to spread as early as 24 hours before people even show symptoms, and they can continue to pass it along five to seven days after feeling healthier. Take these tips for keeping yourself protected from the nasty sickness so you can enjoy the season without any interruptions to your health and happiness.

Get your flu shot
The easiest way to protect yourself against the flu is to get immunized, and the benefits are incredible for those of all ages. The CDC advised everyone over the age of 6 months to get a flu shot before the start of the fall season, when the number of flu cases increases. The vaccine changes each season to protect against the virus that's expected to be common in the coming months. So, just because you got a flu shot in the past doesn't mean you're protected for the most recent strain of the sickness. Many pharmacies and clinics give vaccines to those who wish to receive them, and if you're at an assisted living or retirement community, they may offer them as well. 

Make healthy choices
It's always a good idea to engage in healthy activities like regular exercise and proper eating habits, but it's even more important during flu season. Now's a better time than ever to grab a walking buddy and exercise your way to good health. Also, switching from sugary foods to fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants cant help ward off sickness and keep your immune system strong enough to fight off the germs you come in contact with every day. For those same reasons, it's important to get enough sleep each night so your body can recharge and build up its resistance to viruses. 

Practice good hygiene
The door handles, tables and furniture you touch throughout the day could contain the flu virus from others who have it. As a result, it's best practice to wash your hands frequently, not just through flu season, but during all times of the year. Wash up before meals, after going to the bathroom and after all other activities. Avoid touching your face or eyes, as it can transmit the virus into your system and make you sick. Shower regularly, and switch into your pajamas before going to sleep so you don't bring any of the germs into bed with you.

Seek help if you feel sick
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid the flu, it gets the best of you. If you have a persistent cough, nasal congestion, body aches or a fever, you may be sick with the virus. Talk to your physician if you experience symptoms, and remember that you're able to pass it along even if you start to feel healthy again. Cover your mouth and nose appropriately. It's best to cough into your elbow and sneeze into a tissue to reduce the spread of the virus, and wash your hands even more frequently if you have the virus yourself.