Every year our country sees varying levels of flu activity. Some year’s numbers are so high it’s described as an epidemic. Others we see far fewer cases reported. The Center for Disease Control recently reported that current flu activity is elevated for most of the country. The CDC measures ongoing flu activity by compiling data on reported symptoms, confirmed diagnoses and flu-related hospitalizations. Each of these numbers is on the rise compared to previous flu seasons. The influenza vaccine is the most common way to protect yourself against the virus that causes the flu. It’s recommended that all individuals over 6 months of age obtain the vaccine as soon as it’s available. With reported cases continuing to rise, doctors and medical professionals are urging unvaccinated people to get the vaccine because it’s not too late. Regardless of whether or not you’ve received the flu vaccine, there are some extra precautions to help you stay healthy inside your home and out in public places this flu season. Here are some tips for warding off germs this flu season:
- Wash your hands frequently, preferably with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer works, but not as well because it doesn’t physically rinse the germs like soap and warm water.
- Avoid touching your face. Dirty hands that come in contact with the eyes, nose or mouth can quickly spread germs. Not only is the flu common this time of year, but pink eye, sinus infections and cold viruses are as well. These are all spread by hand-to-face contact.
- Avoid contact with sick people. Most times this is easier said than done. When it comes to work, school, daycare, and busy, public places, stay home if possible.
- Keep your environment clean. This includes anywhere you and/or your family spend time. Clean surfaces (kitchen, bath) as well as frequently touched items like cell phones and remote controls. Don’t forget other places like inside the car and your desk at work.
- Don’t neglect your own health. Get plenty of exercise, sleep and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Spending too much time cleaning your surroundings will definitely pay off, but it’s important not to forget or underestimate how your own personal health protects against the cold and the flu.