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Avoid the Flu
Healthy habits can help prevent the spread of germs
The flu is part of life each fall, but that doesn’t mean you have to get sick. Take smart steps to stay healthy and safe all year.
Close contact can spread sickness. If a friend or loved one has signs of a cold or the flu, you should stay at least 6 feet away. Remember, people can be sick without having clear symptoms. That’s why you should keep your distance from others when you’re in a crowded public place. Don’t touch your mouth, eyes or nose in public.
The COVID-19 public health emergency is over, but the pandemic brought health and hygiene lessons we should remember. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says face masks can help stop the spread of germs. You should also wash your hands often. Use soap and water, and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Look for one with at least 60 percent alcohol.
Don’t share your cold
If you’re sick, stay home as much as you can. Open your windows and turn on fans to improve your indoor airflow. Air filters can help, as well.
Cover your sneezes and coughs. Use a tissue if you can. Otherwise, use the bend of your inner arm. Don’t share towels, dishes or other household items with family members.
Be sure to clean high-traffic surfaces like light switches and doorknobs.
Schedule your shot
Vaccines work. Studies show the flu vaccine reduces your chance of getting the flu. For those who do get sick, vaccines reduce the severity of illness. The CDC says that during the 2019 – 2020 flu season, vaccines prevented about 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million flu-related medical visits, 105,000 flu-associated hospitalizations and 6,300 flu-associated deaths.
Antibiotics won’t work
Antibiotics are often used for bacterial infections, but they don’t work against illnesses caused by viruses, such as the flu. In fact, they might even cause harm. Antibiotics can trigger side effects like nausea and diarrhea.
If you are in a high-risk group for complications and you catch the flu, let your doctor know. He or she might prescribe an antiviral that can shorten your illness and improve your symptoms. You can also stick with tried-and-true medical advice: Stay home, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Use over-the-counter medicine to help with symptoms like body aches.
Take steps to prevent illness. Make sure you are vaccinated against the flu. Stop the spread of germs and stay healthy.
The CDC and the Mayo Clinic are independent organizations that offer health information you may find helpful.