The CDC states that the single best way to protect against the flu is immunization each year with the seasonal influenza vaccine. There are multiple options for immunization of patients. The most traditional is a standard dose trivalent vaccine that protects against 2 influenza A viruses and 1 influenza B virus. For more information regarding the types of immunization available click here. Immunization is available for almost all individuals above the age of 6 months old. Immunization for the youngest and oldest people in our communities is of the utmost importance, as they are often the patients that will be most severely affected if they contract the flu.
Hand hygiene is also an important way to decrease the spread of infection and illness. Make sure you are washing your hands often with hot soapy water or you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if a sink is not available The influenza virus can live on surfaces outside of the human body for approximately 2-8 hours. When out and about at school, work and stores during the winter months, keep this in mind and wash your hands frequently.
Symptoms of influenza include: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, headache and body aches. There are medications available that can decrease the length and severity of symptoms. These antiviral medications only work if started within the first 48 hours of illness, so it is important to be seen quickly by a health care provider to obtain treatment if you think that you may have the flu.
If you have the flu, here are a few recommendations to try to avoid spreading it.
- Stay home from work or school. If you are sick, do not go near other people so that you don't make them sick too.
- Most flu symptoms gradually improve over two to five days, but it's not uncommon to feel run down for a week or more. It is wise to not return to school or work for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – throw the tissue away after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If you are not near water, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often spread this way.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially when someone is ill.
Our clinic has rapid flu tests on hand and we are open Monday through Friday with same day appointments available each day to serve you.