Fight the Flu This Fall
Autumn leaves. Pumpkin carving. Cooler weather. And the sniffles.
It’s the time of the year to go outside and enjoy the cooler air, not stay in bed with a box of tissues and a cup of hot butternut-squash soup.
Because the influenza virus can spread so easily to others without any visible signs of symptoms, it’s important to make sure you get your flu shot early on in the season.
People who are at greater risk of serious flu-related symptoms include children younger than five; adults 65 and older; people who have asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, blood disorders, pregnant women; and people who have HIV or AIDS.
Family Medicine Physician Dr. Dickmann, M.D. suggest that vaccinations should be done once during each flu season, generally starting in September each year. However, there are preventative steps you can take daily to avoid catching the flu.
How can you keep from getting the flu?
- Avoid close contact with anyone you know who is sick
According to Dr. Dickmann, the influenza virus in spread between people through droplets generally from coughing or sneezing. Typically it’s safe to stay five to six feet away from anyone sneezing or coughing.
- Sanitize shared items
Door knobs, TV remotes, sheets and blankets, bathroom sinks and computer keyboards are all shared objects in a household that don’t always get cleaned as much as they should. If you’re sick, consider cleaning everything you touch inside or outside your home to prevent others from catching your cold.
- Wash your hands
More than ever, make sure to wash both hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using an alcohol-based rub. This is important because people frequently touch their eyes, nose and mouth, where germs can easily enter into the body.
- Drink enough water
Staying hydrated helps your body circulate blood more freely, allowing flu-fighting white-blood cells to fight off viruses. Water is a natural way to help your immune system fight germs and helps flush out any harmful toxins from your immune system. Upping your water intake also will replace lost fluids and will keep your nose and throat from feeling too dry.
- Eat nutritious foods
Diets that are too low in calories or contain too many processed or fast foods will lack the nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy immune system.
“Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps the immune system stay strong, and along with getting vaccinated and taking precautionary measures,” Dickmann said. “A good immune system is the best defense against catching the flu.”
What should you do if you get sick?
- Stay home
The CDC suggests that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone, unless it’s to seek medical care. Staying home can help ensure that others don’t get sick as well as that you get the rest you need to feel better.
If you are looking for a primary care physician or to receive your flu vaccine, UF Health Family Medicine offers board-certified physicians with a full range of medical services for patients of all age groups. If you wish to make an appointment with UF Health Family Medicine, call us at 352-265-1234 or visit our website UFHealth.org/family-medicine.