How to Protect Your Family Against the Flu
With this year’s flu season still seeing record high diagnoses across the country, including some serious hospitalizations and fatalities, many families are wondering what they can do to protect against the flu until the season begins to wind down. The flu is not like the common cold; while it can past without complications, the flu is much more serious than many people believe.
You can do several things to help keep your family flu-free. Follow these prevention and treatment response tips to help reduce the impact of the illness on your family and your community.
Get the Flu Vaccine
With a more intense flu season, more and more people lose faith in the flu vaccine, thinking that it’s simply not worth it or just doesn’t work. This year’s flu vaccine won’t protect against all flu strains, but it will still provide a measure of protection against the most common ones.
In addition, even though getting the vaccine might not totally prevent infection, it can reduce the overall duration and seriousness of the illness, reducing the risk of complications. Getting vaccinated can also help prevent the spread of the disease to people who are more vulnerable, like the elderly and children under the age of five.
In addition, even though it’s already late winter, it’s not too late to get the flu vaccine. Flu season continues through the spring, and with a season as serious as this one has been, it could run longer.
Practice Exceptional In-Home Hygiene
Cleanliness helps to prevent the flu virus from spreading and getting into your home. You can reduce your risk by:
- Teaching your children how to properly wash their hands. Many children skip soap or don’t use warm water when washing. They also don’t wash their hands for long enough.
- Washing hands and using hand sanitizer after being in public. Your children go to school, the library, the store, and other places where they are exposed to germs. Keep a bottle of sanitizer with you to regularly clean their hands, especially if you’ll be eating while out and about.
- Sanitizing things that people touch frequently, like doorknobs. Wash the fixtures in your home with soap.
- Washing your own hands before coming home from work. You don’t want to bring germs home, especially if you work with people all day. Teachers, bank tellers, and people who work in hospitals are more likely to bring home the virus.
It’s easy to forget about being vigilant when it comes to germ prevention, but you’d be surprised how much the illness could be prevented by simple hygiene practices.
Act Quickly When Symptoms Appear
In years when the flu is less severe or widespread, parents are often advised to wait out a cough, fever, or headache simply because children can have these symptoms from the common cold or a passing viral infection. However, because the flu is such a concern this season, it’s better to go to urgent care or a walk-in family clinic as soon as you notice a high fever, dry cough, running nose, sore throat, or rash.
Catching the flu early makes antiviral medication more effective at shortening the length of the illness. Ideally, you or your child would begin medication within 48 hours of symptoms appearing – the sooner, the better.
When you act quickly, your doctor can also catch troubling complications as they begin. For example, a common complication of the flu is breathing problems. A quick listen to the lungs will help your doctor catch early breathing trouble before you notice external symptoms.
For more information about the flu, including symptoms and treatment, contact us at International Family Medicine, Walk-In & Urgent Care.