Flu seasons are very unpredictable and vary in severity. In fact, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify the 2017 flu season as severe. That’s because flu activity stayed high in all 50 states, which is rare because flu activity typically moves from region to region throughout a single flu season. But now is the time to find out how you can avoid this year’s flu symptoms.
There are three key statistics that will classify a flu season as “severe”:
- Influenza-like-illness lasting 19 consecutive weeks
- Elevated pneumonia and influenza mortality for 16 weeks
- Record-breaking flu hospitalization rates
The hospitalization rates are telling. The three highest hospitalization rates occurred during the last three flu seasons:
On top of that, CDC statistics show influenza virus is responsible for killing between 3,000 and 49,000 people each year. That’s why it’s critical to take the necessary steps to decrease your risk for getting sick. So, let’s look at the most effective ways you can avoid this year’s flu symptoms.
Avoid This Year’s Flu Symptoms by Getting Vaccinated
The best, most effective method for preventing this year’s flu symptoms is to get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control recommends getting a flu shot every year. It’s the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
The CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 months receive the flu vaccine— but especially those who are at high risk for developing flu-related complications, including:
- Children younger than 5 (especially those 2 and under)
- People over the age of 65
- Pregnant women
- Nursing home or long-term care facility residents
- American Indians and Alaska natives
While there are many different flu viruses, a flu vaccine protects against the viruses that research suggests will be most common during a given flu season. By getting vaccinated, you’re protecting yourself and the people around you.
Avoid This Year’s Flu Symptoms by Washing Your Hands
Once you’re vaccinated, your fight against this year’s flu symptoms doesn’t stop there.
Another way to prevent the flu during flu season is to be careful about what you touch—especially when you’re out in public.
Wash your hands using soap and hot water often. You should scrub for the amount of time it takes you to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. If you can’t get to a sink, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid This Year’s Flu Symptoms by Covering up Coughs and Sneezes
Learn how to cough and sneeze like Count Dracula. Do your best to cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow and not your hand.
If your hands catch your cough or sneeze, you’re going to spread your germs to the next person, or thing, that you touch. Using your elbow minimizes the spread of germs.
And remember: Don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
Avoid This Year’s Flu Symptoms by Avoiding Sick People
If you suspect a coworker or friend may have the flu, ask them politely to stay home. Try to minimize your contact with someone who isn’t feeling well.
If it’s a member of your immediate family who is sick, you can create a “sick room”.
Give the sick person their own space, including:
- Their own bathroom (if you have more than one)
- Their own drinking glass
- Their own washcloth
- Their own towel
This can help keep others in your family from getting the flu.
There are many precautions you can take to prevent feeling this year’s flu symptoms. It starts with scheduling an appointment to get vaccinated. But if you're looking for more information on the flu and how to avoid it, download our guide: "How to Get Rid of the Flu or Not Get It At All."