The weather is getting a little cooler and the holidays are approaching — social calendars are filling up with yearly traditions and everyone seems in good spirits... but why are you feeling under the weather despite all the excitement? Along with the holidays, flu season is back!
Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness that can cause mild to severe symptoms. However, unlike Halloween, flu season doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, there are ways you can protect yourself and your family.
While the influenza virus can spread year-round, in the United States, flu activity typically peaks between the months of December to February, but can last as late at May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a 2018 CDC study, it was found that on average, about eight percent of the U.S. population gets sick from the flu each season. The flu is mainly spread through the air, by microscopic droplets from those infected when they cough, sneeze, or even speak.
Check out these four simple health tips to safeguard you and your family from the flu this season. These tips can also help to slow the spread of COVID-19.
- Get the flu vaccine: The best way to reduce the risk of developing potentially serious health complications from the flu is to get your flu vaccine. It is recommended by the CDC and the California Department of Public Health that everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine, even if you have already received a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC also stresses that it is important to get vaccinated early in the flu season, ideally by October 31. Flu vaccines are available at most local pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens. Visit bchd.org/fluvaccine for more location options.
- Wash your hands: Make sure to wash your hands often throughout the day using soap and warm water. If you do not have these items easily at your disposal, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will do the trick. It is best to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Instead of counting to 20, try reciting the alphabet twice. (To make it more challenging, try reciting the alphabet backwards, have fun with it!)
- Avoid touching your face: According to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Infection Control, it was estimated that on average, we touch our faces about 23 times per hour. Touching your face with your hands is a common way for germs to spread, so it is best to avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose in order to protect yourself from the flu. One easy way to break this habit is by keeping your hands busy in other ways. If you feel the urge to touch your face, grab a pen or pencil and try to draw an object, such as a flower.
- Wear a face covering in public: Not only does wearing a face mask reduce the spread of COVID-19, but it also reduces the spread of the flu by protecting yourself and others from airborne germs. So remember to bring your trusty face mask when you’re out and about.
For more information, please visit: https://www.bchd.org/flu.