The flu virus affects millions of people every year, usually between September and April. Flu symptoms include sinus congestion, fever, fatigue, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhea. Although most healthy adults can recover from the virus on their own, it’s possible to experience complications. To stay safe, you should visit an urgent care center if you think you might have the flu—they can administer an anti-viral medication to ease your recovery. There are also steps you can take to avoid catching the potentially dangerous virus in the first place. Here’s what you should know.
How to Avoid Catching the Flu
1. Get a Flu Shot
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine every year. To protect yourself and your family, get a flu vaccine at a pharmacy, urgent care center, or family doctor’s office. Most insurance plans cover the full expense, so you won’t have to pay for the appointment if you’re insured.
2. Wash Your Hands Frequently
Germs are everywhere—especially on public transportation. Wash your hands whenever you’re around food (including pet food), and make sure to scrub your hands for 20-30 seconds each time. Then, rinse and dry your hands completely. The CDC explains why you need to follow these steps carefully and what happens when you use hand sanitizer instead of soap and water.
3. Don’t Share Food or Utensils
A 2015 study at Clemson University proved that double-dipping shares—on average—around 10,000 bacteria in a matter of minutes. The flu is a virus, but this proves that it’s easy to transfer germs from seemingly minor points of contact. If someone could have been exposed to the flu, even if they don’t have any active symptoms, don’t share your food or utensils with them.
4. Avoid People Who Are Coughing, Sneezing or Appear Sick
The flu can spread quickly—even if you stand six feet away from someone carrying the virus. People who are sick with the flu can be contagious from the first day of infection until seven days later.
5. Clean Surfaces in Communal Areas
Keep your house as clean as possible, especially if someone in the household is sick. Although it might seem counterintuitive, antibacterial cleaning agents stick to surfaces and can encourage resistant bacteria strains to grow, which actually makes them more dangerous. New research shows it’s better to use soap and water or a solution with alcohol, chlorine bleach, or hydrogen peroxide instead of an antibacterial spray. These agents will be just as effective at killing viruses like the flu.
If you think you have the flu, visit the HDR Healthcare Network family practice and urgent care center. Located on Boston Road in the Bronx, NY, they offer flu vaccinations and diagnostic services, in addition to pediatric care, gastroenterology, and more. To learn more about their compassionate team of doctors, visit their website. To schedule an appointment for preventative or urgent care, call (929) 256-5005 today.