7 steps to help you stay well when those around you have the flu

7 steps to help you stay well when those around you have the flu

The flu is an unpleasant illness; especially now we’re not as young as we used to be. With our immune systems not as strong as they once were, we’re at higher risk than others of complications if we do catch the flu (1). The virus could also make existing health conditions worse (1).

But the flu is also a preventable illness. There are steps we can take to protect ourselves from the virus when others around us are sick. Let’s take a closer look at seven of them.

1. Stay away from people who are sick

Try to avoid any unnecessary visits to family or friends who have flu-like symptoms: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue (2). Also, ask anyone who is sick if they can rearrange visits for when their symptoms have disappeared; they may have the flu and could pass it on. They could be infectious the entire time they have symptoms, and for up to 24 hours after their fever has fully disappeared (2).

2. Keep clear of crowds

Try to avoid crowded places, if possible (2). Look for alternative ways to take part in gatherings (3), by using your phone or computer for instance. If you’re not able to avoid places where there may be people who are sick, reduce the amount of time you spend in these situations as much as possible (2).

3. Limit close contact

Stay at least one metre away from anyone with flu-like symptoms (2). However, close contact with people who might be ill can’t always be avoided. If this is the case, try to reduce the amount of time you spend near them (2).

4. Disinfect surfaces

Take care to clean and disinfect surfaces (4), especially if someone your home has flu-like symptoms. The flu can be spread by someone simply touching a surface that has been contaminated with the virus (2).

5. Wash your hands regularly

Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds each time (2). Dry them thoroughly by using single-use paper towels or a warm air dryer, if they’re available (2). If there’s no soap and water nearby, you could use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol instead (3). But washing with soap and water is always preferable (2).

6. Avoid touching your face

Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, if at all possible (2). The flu virus is most likely to enter your body through them (4); you could catch the flu by touching your face after you’ve handled something that’s been contaminated with the virus (5).

7. Be prepared

The flu vaccine is the best way for you to protect yourself from the flu. Get a seasonal flu vaccine every year (4). While it’s not a perfect tool, it can provide enough protection to make your symptoms milder or prevent flu-related complications if you’re unfortunate enough to catch the flu (6). Have you had yours?


References
(1) https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/conditions-illnesses/flu-prevention
(2) https://ecdc.europa.eu/en/seasonal-influenza/prevention-and-control/personal-protective-measures
(3) https://www.cdc.gov/nonpharmaceutical-interventions/gathering/event-attendees.html
(4) https://www.who.int/influenza/spotlight
(5) https://twitter.com/CDCofBC/status/942818023743815682
(6) https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/ucm384535.htm

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