If you’ve watched the evening news anytime in the past few months, you know that the flu virus made its way across Michigan early this year. Some areas of the state have been especially hard hit. As is always the case, children, seniors and those living with chronic health conditions and weakened immune systems are at increased risk for contracting the virus. Now that the busy holiday season is upon us, we thought it was important to take a few minutes to remind Michigan’s family caregivers how they can best avoid getting bitten by the bug this year.
6 Ways to Avoid the Flu over the Holidays
Most of us spend more time interacting with others during the holidays than almost any other time of year. From holiday shopping to office parties, it isn’t easy to avoid coming in to contact with people who may have the flu. But there are a few things you can do to keep from getting it.
- Get your flu shot. The vaccine is the best way to shoo the flu. If you haven’t had yours for the year, make it a priority.
- Care for the caregiver. During the holidays, already busy caregivers feel even more overwhelmed. A lack of sleep and poor diet are often the result. Both lead to a rundown immune system that makes you more susceptible to the virus. Try to increase the amount of foods you eat that are rich in vitamins A, E, and C, and to take at least a 20 to 30 minute walk each day.
- No hugs or handshakes in public. While avoiding friendly contact can be difficult during the holidays, it can help prevent you from getting the flu. The virus is highly contagious and easily transmitted. Getting a hug or a handshake from a friend or colleague who may not be aware they have the flu can expose you to it.
- Soap and warm water. Washing your hands with warm, soapy water can help kill any viruses you may have been exposed to at work or when you are out in public. Health experts say you should wash your hands long enough to be able to sing a chorus of Yankee Doodle Dandy. Keep hand sanitizers with you for the times you won’t have access to soap and water.
- Stay home when you are ill. Calling in sick to work is something most people hesitate to do. But it is the fastest way for you to rest and recover, and the best way to prevent the virus from spreading.
- Antiviral medications help. If you are one of the unlucky ones who come down with the flu, call your doctor for an appointment as soon as you notice the first symptom. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say prescription antiviral medications can keep the flu from progressing and shorten the length of time you are sick.
To help consumers learn more about this year’s influenza virus and provide more prevention tips, The Department of Health and Human Services has developed flu.gov. Topics range from flu shot questions to risk factors.