The United States is in the grip of one of the roughest Flu season. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu outbreak this in this season is responsible for at least 53 child deaths so far.
High level of illness resembling flu is reported in 42 states and the hospitalization for flu is rising across the nation.
The flu is specifically dangerous for people over 65 years of age, children below 5 years, and anyone with a weak immune system. Patients from these groups are more likely to experience severe or deadly complications arising because of the flu.
It is important to remember, anyone can be affected by flu and everyone can take preventive steps to restrict its spread. Here are a few steps you can take to ensure safety from flu.
- Get a flu shot: The flu shot, although not a full proof, but highly recommended solution. The CDC recommends everyone above 6 months to get a flu shot once in a year. According to Canadian researchers, this year’s flu vaccine is less than 20 percent effective against the flu outbreak, yet experts emphasize on getting a flu shot as it reduces the probability of getting affected as well as reduces severity of the illness in the case of contracted by flu.
The best time to get a flu shot is at the beginning of the flu season; however it is still not too late if you haven’t taken a flu shot.
- Avoid contact with sick people: The flu virus can spread up to 6 ft. from the person affected by flu. It travels in the air in the form of microscopic droplets when the affected people sneeze, cough, or talk. The microscopic droplets can easily inhaled or get into mouths of people nearby.
To avoid the sickness, avoid contact with people affected with flu. If you are ill, stay at home from work or school. Also, avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes, without washing your hands. This is one of the most common ways the virus enters body.
- Wash your hands frequently: One of the ways of staying safe from flu is washing your hands frequently. It is important that you wash it right. Experts say that you need to scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have a timer, then you scrub your hands while humming ‘Happy Birthday’ song from start to end twice. Make sure to lather back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. You can also use an alcohol-based sanitizer in case of unavailability of soap.
- Keep your environment clean: Although the flu virus mainly transfers from person to person, but it can also linger on the surfaces or objects. Touching the surfaces/objects and then touching your mouth or nose in a possibly flu contaminated place can lead to contracting flu. It is said that a germy doorknob can infect half of your office within hours. Doorknobs, countertops, airplane tray tables, computer keyboards, and phones can easily lead to flu contamination.
To avoid this, clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that have possibility of flu contamination. Do not share the items, such as dishes, glasses, linens used by an ill person without washing thoroughly first.
- Wear a face mask when visiting a hospital: Surgical masks can help to reduce chances of contracting flu, although it is not 100 percent full proof solution. It is very likely that hospitals will have patients that are suffering with illnesses that have compromised their immune system, it is important to save them from contracting flu and use of face mask may prove vital. Healthy visitors can also benefit from using face masks when visiting hospitals that have flu patients.
- Take antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them: If you are a flu patient, take the antiviral drugs prescribed by the doctor. These drugs are different than antibiotics and treat the bacterial infection but not the flu virus. Antiviral drugs can help in reducing the severity of the illness and can also help in reducing the time to recover from illness, especially if taken soon after symptoms are observed. It is important that you follow the course of antiviral medicines as prescribed by the doctor.