Tis’ the Season

fluThe holiday season is almost in full swing, and that means party invitations and family gatherings. These social events involve shaking people’s hands, exchanging conversation, and eating ample amounts of food. We’ll be among hundreds of people celebrating the holiday cheer, laughing about all that’s happened this past year, and looking forward to what the New Year has in store. Without even knowing it or seeing it happen, we’ll be spreading germs from person to person; coming in contact with the latest bug that’s going around and even the dreaded influenza virus. We’ll also probably encounter the occasional person with a runny rose, a cough, or even a slight fever – all the things we need to avoid in order to stay healthy through the holidays.

The holiday season is the most dreaded time to get sick. We want to say “yes” to all of the invitations we’ve received and see friends and family we haven’t seen in months. So how can we stay flu-free, you may ask? Well, it’s really quite simple and doesn’t take too much effort. As long as we’re aware of our actions, we can stay healthy. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu season typically peaks in January or February, but cases have been seen as early as October – so early prevention is key. The CDC recommends that everyone get a yearly flu vaccine; the earlier the better to lessen our chances of getting sick. There are also daily steps we can take to reduce our chances as well. These steps include washing our hands frequently and using Purell when soap and water aren’t available, staying away from people that are sick, covering our mouths when we cough, and last but not least, staying home when we’re sick.

Flu vaccines are offered in many different locations, such as doctor’s offices, local pharmacies, health clinics, college health centers, and even some employers are starting to offer them. The CDC has made it easy for people to locate where they are giving out flu shots. Simply type your address into the HealthMap Vaccine Finder and you’ll see all the locations where the flu shot is offered.

So if you think you have the flu, how can you know for sure? First, make an appointment with your health care provider right away, because the only medicine that helps attack the flu virus needs to be started within 48 hours of getting sick. People who have the flu often have the following symptoms: fever or feeling feverish with chills, a cough, sore throat, runny nose, muscles aches, fatigue and headaches. Be aware that you might not have all of these symptoms and still have the flu, or you might have these symptoms and have a different virus or bacteria. So in order to know for sure, check with your health care provider. Best of luck fighting off the flu this season! Remember to get vaccinated and stay home if you’re sick! Early prevention is key.