What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of preventing the flu and other contagious illnesses? Washing your hands? Covering your mouth when you cough? The Centers for Disease Control has one recommendation that ranks as #1: Get a flu shot! Have you gotten yours yet?
Every year, the flu spreads across the country. The peak months are typically December through February. Read these tips to find out what you can do to help the spread of this serious disease.
Tip #1. “Get the flu shot,” says the CDC
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), getting the flu shot is the “single best way to prevent seasonal flu.” If you have health insurance, flu shots may be free. They are available at a low cost at pharmacies, physicians’ offices, flu shot clinics, and other locations. If you are someone with allergies or other health concerns, it’s best to check with your doctor to be sure the shot is safe for you.
Tip #2. Wash your hands, and wash them correctly
If you are in a career training program for a healthcare career, you will learn that hand washing is extremely important for infection prevention. And remember, a quick rinse won’t do the trick. To ensure that you are killing or washing away the contaminants, be sure to wash carefully, using either soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub. Clean your entire hands at least as far up as your wrists. Wash under your fingernails and between your fingers too. Keep your fingernails trimmed too, so that germs don’t have hiding places.
Tip #3. Don’t touch your nose, eyes, or mouth.
A lot of people touch their faces, noses, eyes, or mouths without even realizing they are doing it. If you have contaminants on your hands, these germs can enter your body in this way. Train yourself not to touch these parts of your face unless you have just washed your hands.
Tip #4. Keep away from people who are sick.
It is best to stay away from people who are sick, but many times this is not possible. If you are a healthcare provider, such as a practical nurse or a nursing assistant, you will have to interact with people who are sick. Do your best to keep up with your hand hygiene in order to help prevent the illnesses from spreading to you, your loved ones, and your other patients.
Tip #5. Keep yourself fit and well-rested.
Maintaining good overall health is another way to help avoid getting the flu or other sicknesses. It’s not a guarantee, but being in good health and good fitness helps build your immune system. It also helps you fight a virus if you should get one. Make sure you get enough sleep, stay physically active, manage your stress levels, eat balanced meals, and drink adequate liquids. Also, try to keep your living area clean by disinfecting phones, desks, light switches, and other areas that are frequently touched.
Tip #6. Don’t go to work if you are sick.
Missing work can take a financial toll, but if you get sick, you owe it to your co-workers and patients to stay home. The same goes for your children. Sending sick children to school can spread illness, especially because children are not as careful about their hygiene. Do your best to keep sick people at home, in order to prevent spreading the illnesses to others.
Tip #7. Practice your cough and sneeze etiquette.
Did you know that flu germs can travel over 6 feet when you sneeze? The virus is transmitted through droplets in the air, which means that a person standing 6 feet away from you can catch your flu germs if you sneeze without covering. You should sneeze or cough into a tissue, and then dispose of your tissue in a trash can that has a lid. Be sure to wash your hands after sneezing and coughing too.
Tip #8. How to lessen the flu’s symptoms.
If you do get the flu, take it seriously. Talk to your doctor right away to see if there are any antiviral medications that could shorten the duration of the flu or minimize the severity of it. There is no cure for the flu, but these medicines may help.
As the winter season rolls into town, we hope these tips will help you stay healthy and active during the cold months to come!
The tips in this article were modified from the Centers for Disease Control’s Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs.
The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health in Manchester, NH, publishes blog articles to help promote public health. Our school is proud to provide three career-focused training programs in the field of healthcare. Students at the Salter School study to become Licensed Nursing Assistants, Patient Care Technicians and Practical Nurses. To learn more about our school, contact us today.