Flu Prevention for Individuals and Families.

Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself from the flu
Influenza is a respiratory illness that can be very serious, even for healthy people. Everyone over 6 months of age should get a flu immunization to protect themselves and those around them from getting sick. It’s also important to wash your hands, cover your cough and stay home when ill to avoid spreading the flu to others.

Symptoms of influenza

Symptoms of influenza include: fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, runny or stuffy nose, headache, nausea, chills and fatigue.

When to seek medical care

Most people will recover completely on their own after a week or so of illness and don’t need to see a doctor. In other cases, though, it might be necessary to seek medical care.

People who have severe flu symptoms or have an underlying medical condition that puts them at high risk for flu complications should contact a healthcare provider, who will determine whether treatment is needed.

If you are directed to see a health care provider, ask if the facility has any special procedures for flu sufferers who visit.

Did you know that the flu virus can live for two hours or more on hard surfaces like doorknobs, tables and desks? It’s enough to make you want to wear a protective bodysuit all day long. But there’s plenty you can do to avoid germs without resigning yourself to life in a bubble. Protection starts with learning how the flu virus is spread.

Colds and the flu are spread mainly from person to person through coughs and sneezes. Tiny droplets from a cough or sneeze will travel through the air into the mouths or noses of people nearby. But these droplets can also land on surfaces in your surroundings, like the top of a table or desk. If someone touches these surfaces, then touches his eyes, nose or mouth before washing his hands, the virus spreads.

Another way the flu can spread is if an infected person coughs or sneezes into her hands, then touches a hard surface like a phone, keyboard, or toy before washing her hands. If another person touches that phone, keyboard or toy and then touches his own eyes, nose or mouth before washing his hands, the infection spreads.

Considering how long a flu virus can live on a hard surface, the objects around you are likely to be touched much more often than they can be cleaned and disinfected. This is why it’s so important to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.

The most effective way of preventing the flu is with an influenza vaccination. Every fall you should be immunized against strains that have developed since the previous outbreak. If you are vaccinated against one or more strains, you may still come down with flu, but your symptoms are likely to be milder than they would have been had you not had an influenza vaccination.

Influenza vaccine is available through physicians and public-health facilities and many companies provide flu vaccines on-site for their workers. Because influenza is a serious threat, the Baltic American Clinic recommends vaccination for everyone 50 and older; children age 6 months to 19 years; nursing-home residents and employees; anyone with certain chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD; pregnant women; and people who work in medical facilities.