5 Ways to Fight the Flu

5 Ways to Fight the Flu

It may seem like just a bad cold, but the flu's effects can be far more serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. are hospitalized every year due to influenza, and in 2018 alone, about 80,000 Americans died from this all-too-common illness.

Despite the statistics, there’s plenty you can do to boost your chances of staying flu-free this season. Kristen Sumners, DO, Holland Hospital Family Medicine, offers five important tips:

1. Get Your Flu Shot, Every Year

First and foremost, the best way to prevent the flu is through vaccination. A flu shot cannot cause the flu. The viruses contained in a shot are inactivated (killed), which means they cannot cause infection. Each year’s vaccine will protect against the flu viruses CDC researchers believe will be most common during that particular season. There are several different flu vaccines available, so talk to your health care provider about which option would work best for you.

It’s critical for people with chronic illness to get vaccinated; however, anyone can benefit from vaccination. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination for everyone older than 6 months of age, including pregnant women.

2. Wash Your Hands, A Lot  

Washing your hands a lot with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing “happy birthday twice”) is one of the most effective ways to prevent germs from spreading. Follow these simple steps to wash up the right way.

3. Stop the Spread of Germs

  • When sneezing or coughing, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue (and immediately throw the tissue in the trash after use.)
  • Regularly clean phones, computer keyboards and other frequently touched workspace/household items with a disinfectant.
  • Avoid close contact or shaking hands with someone who has visible signs of illness. If you’re sick, limit contact with others (including coworkers) as much as possible to protect them from possible infection. When you have the flu, you can be contagious one day before you even have symptoms and remain that way for up to a week after you start feeling sick.

4. Live Well, Stay Well

Living well by eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, getting quality sleep, keeping stress in check, and quitting smoking can help your body stave off disease, including the flu. 

5. Take Antivirals

Prescription antivirals work best for treatment of flu when started within about two days of becoming ill. Antivirals are not the same as antibiotics, which are only useful for treating bacterial infections (not viruses like the flu). Antivirals can help alleviate symptoms, shorten the time you’re sick and may prevent serious flu complications.

In your neighborhood and close to home, Holland Hospital Family Medicine is focused on your health and wellness—delivering comprehensive, compassionate care for infants, children and adults of all ages.

  • Kristen Sumners, DO

    Kristen Sumners, DO

    Kristen Sumners, DO, is a board certified family medicine physician at Holland Hospital Family Medicine – Zeeland. She provides primary health care services to patients of all ages. Dr. Sumners focuses on women's health, health and wellness, disease prevention, physicals and annual well checks, exercise and nutrition.

    Kristen Sumners, DO

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