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Be Ready for Flu Season
It is flu season, which means that if you have not yet gotten a flu shot, you should do so. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), everyone over the age of 6 months should get an annual flu shot unless you have a life-threatening allergy to an ingredient in the vaccine. If you are allergic to eggs or if you have ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome, you should talk to your doctor before getting the vaccine. And if you are feeling ill, you should wait until you feel better before you get your flu shot.
Flu shots are particularly important for people who are at a high risk for complications from the flu. These include children younger than 5 and adults older than 65, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and people who suffer from asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease and other serious, chronic conditions.
It is possible to get the flu vaccine and still develop the flu. In general, though, the CDC estimates that getting the vaccine reduces your chance of getting the virus by about 60 percent. If you get it, you probably will get a milder case than if you had not been vaccinated.
Still, it makes sense to take steps to minimize your exposure to the flu virus, including:
Symptoms of the flu can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. It is possible to have flu without getting a fever, and children especially might have vomiting and diarrhea.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you sneeze. Then throw the tissue into the trash and wash your hands.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, using antibacterial soap and hot water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, where germs can enter your body.
- If you or someone in your household is sick, use disinfectant wipes on doorknobs, counters, remote controls and other surfaces other people touch.
- Make sure you eat well and get plenty of sleep.
If you think you have the flu, talk to your doctor about an antiviral medication, which might lessen the severity of your illness. These prescription drugs are most effective if taken within 48 hours of symptoms. Non-prescription treatment for flu includes rest and over-the-counter medications for fever, runny nose and coughing.