Eight Ways To Keep Your Family Healthy During Flu Season
The end of the year can be an exciting time as we celebrate the holidays, enjoy time off of work, and visit with friends and loved ones. However, this time of year also marks the peak of flu season. As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to be aware of the signs and symptoms of influenza and understand what you can do to keep your family healthy and prevent the spread of illness. The exceptional team of physicians and medical staff at Health Services of North Texas is proud to offer comprehensive treatment and preventive care for patients and families in Denton, Plano, and Wylie, TX. Use this helpful information from our knowledgeable providers to learn eight important measures you can take to protect yourself during flu season in North Texas this year.
What is the flu?
The flu is a respiratory illness primarily affecting the lungs, throat, and nose, caused by the influenza virus. While the flu is contagious and easily spread, some patients may experience only mild to moderate symptoms. However, certain patients – particularly those in high-risk categories – can develop severe or life-threatening complications as a result of contracting the flu.
How to stay safe during flu season
Although catching the flu may not always be completely avoidable, there are a number of steps you can take to greatly minimize your risk of being exposed to the virus. Furthermore, these same steps can help to prevent spreading the illness to others, should you become ill. Here are eight of the most beneficial things you can do to protect yourself from illness this flu season:
1. Get the flu vaccine: Without a doubt, getting an annual flu shot is the most effective method of prevention and protection. Because the influenza strain mutates seasonally, it is important for patients to receive the current flu vaccination each year. Keep in mind that the shot can take up to two weeks to become fully effective, so patients are encouraged to get their flu shot early in the season – usually in August or September.
2. Wash your hands: One of the best defenses we have against germs, viruses, and illness is hand washing. By thoroughly and frequently washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, you can greatly reduce the risk of getting the flu and/or spreading germs to another person or surface.
3. Clean and disinfect regularly: In addition to keeping your hands clean, it is also extremely beneficial to clean and disinfected frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, light switches, handles, countertops, toys, and furniture.
4. Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated: A strong immune system is also critical for defending your body against the flu virus. Be sure to eat a healthy, nutritious diet and drink plenty of water. Additionally, certain vitamins, supplements, and other products recommended by your doctor may help to boost your immune system.
5. Know the symptoms of flu: Understanding flu signs and symptoms is essential for monitoring yourself, your family, and others around you to identify a possible case of the flu. Furthermore, knowing the difference between cold vs. flu vs. COVID-19 symptoms can help you better determine when urgent testing and treatment may be needed. Unfortunately, however, many of the symptoms of flu are similar to cold and COVID -19 symptoms. If you are experiencing any symptoms that you think may be associated with the flu or COVID-19, it is important to get tested as soon as possible and stay isolated from others until you have received your results. Common symptoms of the flu include:
- Body and muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose or nasal congestion
- Vomiting or diarrhea
6. Avoid high-risk activities: If possible, avoid close gatherings and large crowds, particularly indoors. When these activities are unavoidable, make sure to take extra precautions, such as frequent hand washing and wearing a mask, to reduce your risk of exposure.
7. Understand your own risks: Patients in high-risk groups should limit any possible exposure to the flu virus and take every possible precaution (as recommended by their doctor). High-risk individuals often include those who are:
8. Wear a mask: By now, most of us have become accustomed to wearing a mask to prevent or slow the spread of coronavirus. Fortunately, wearing a mask – and many of the precautions we take against COVID-19 – are also effective at protecting us from the flu, cold, and other viruses.
Get ahead of flu prevention in North Texas this season
No one wants to spend the holiday season sick in bed – or worse – in the hospital. Keep yourself and your family safe and healthy with effective flu prevention techniques, including a flu shot, by calling any one of our convenient Health Services of North Texas locations in Denton and Collin Counties. We look forward to helping you stay well and make the most of this season!