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What you should know for the 2015-16 Influenza Season

Matthew Szenderski 10/13/2015
Matthew Szenderski

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As we become all too aware, each year we experience epidemics of seasonal influenza. These epidemic time periods are better known by their common name: “flu season”. Flu season can begin in early October and last until May of the following year, with peaks between December and February.

The flu is a viral respiratory infection that spreads from person to person through coughs and sneezes. Symptoms of the flu include: fever, tiredness, body aches, chills and cough.  In general, flu is worse than the common cold. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience more serious symptoms such as shortness of breath, purple or blue discoloration of lips, pain or pressure in the abdominal area or sudden dizziness.

Below is a list of tips to help you stay healthy during this year’s flu season.

blog_flu_02Get Vaccinated. Anyone over the age of 6 months should consider getting a flu vaccination. High-risk individuals should be especially proactive in receiving the vaccine, including seniors over the age of 65, pregnant women, those with a history of respiratory issues, and those who work in a health care setting. Flu vaccines are offered in many different locations, including doctor’s offices, clinics, health departments, pharmacies, as well as many employers.

Wash your hands several times per day or use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face. There is no greater preventive measure to help reduce the chance of infection than to practice good hygiene. Hand sanitizer has been found to kill 99% of all germs in 20 seconds. When washing your hands, make sure to use warm water with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, and pat dry with a clean towel. Make a point to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer when you touch high-exposure items in public, such as after using an ATM, handling money, or pumping gas. Avoid touching your face so that viruses do not invade the mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, and mouth.

Increase Vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is a natural antihistamine and increases your immune cells which can come under attack when your body comes in contact with infection. The North American Dietary Reference Intake recommends 90 milligrams of Vitamin C per day. The best sources of Vitamin C include dietary supplements, fruits, such as kiwi, orange, grapefruit, and tangerine; as well as vegetables, including broccoli, spinach and tomatoes.

Antiviral Medication – If you are exposed to or are caring for someone with the flu, talk to your doctor about preventive antiviral medications. These prescription medications are approved for adults and children one year and older.

For additional information on this year’s flu season, please visit: www.cdc.gov/flu