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Published on November 03, 2011

Beat the Bug: Tips to Avoid the Flu This Season

In Brief

  • It is important to remember what precautions to take when trying to avoid the flu and other contagious diseases.
  • Hand washing is the number-one way to avoid the flu and other contagious diseases that are common during this time of the year.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges people to take the following three steps when trying to avoid the flu: take time to get a flu vaccine, take everyday preventive actions (such as covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze), and take flu antiviral drugs if your physician recommends them.
  • The best ways to keep your child protected from the flu is to teach good hand hygiene and have them vaccinated.

Fall is in full swing, and it’s time to prepare for the flu season. It is important to remember what precautions to take when trying to avoid the flu and other contagious diseases.

“Hand washing is the number-one way to avoid the flu and other contagious diseases that lurk around during this time of the year,” says Mitchell Kaminski, M.D., chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Crozer-Chester Medical Center. “The most important thing to do when trying to avoid getting sick is to wash your hands properly and frequently. Most infectious diseases, like the fu, can be spread through direct contact.”

In order to wash your hands properly, it is recommended that you follow these simple hand washing recommendations:

  • Use warm water.
  • Wet your hands before applying soap.
  • Rub your soapy hands together for at least 10 seconds.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly to remove all soap.
  • Turn off the water with a paper towel.
  • Dry your hands with an air dryer or a clean paper towel.

“The flu and other diseases are spread by organisms given off by infected people when they sneeze, cough, share items or come in direct contact with other individuals,” says David Kalodner, D.O, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at Taylor Hospital. “When we get sick, it’s important that we all take reasonable precautions to protect other people.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges people to take the following three steps when trying to avoid the flu during this time of year:

  • Take time to get a flu vaccine. According the CDC, the flu vaccine is the number-one way to be protected from the flu. The flu vaccine protects against the three main flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Getting a vaccine is very important for young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart or lung disease; and people 65 and older. The flu vaccination is now officially recommended for all people over six months of age.
  • Take everyday preventive actions. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, wash your hands often, avoid close contact with sick people and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Take flu antiviral drugs if your physician recommends them. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body.

To protect children from the flu, physicians recommend keeping your child home from school and other activities when they are sick, even if they just have a runny nose.

“If your child has symptoms of the flu — which can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue and sometimes diarrhea and vomiting — he or she should stay home and avoid contact with other children who aren’t sick,” says Robert Braunfeld, D.O, chairman of the Department of Family Practice at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. “The best ways to keep your child protected from the flu is to teach good hand hygiene and have them vaccinated.”

For information or to find a physician who’s right for you, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visit www.crozerkeystone.org.

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