Historically, February is the peak month for flu activity, but the 2019-2020 flu season started earlier than most. That means it’s not too late to get a flu shot.
According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year’s flu virus could be a doozy. The is calling the number of pepole seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms “high” in Illinois and Wisconsin.
“Vaccination, albeit not as good this year, still plays an essential part in either preventing the flu or decreasing it’s severity,” says Dr. Syed Abbas, a family doctor at the new Advocate Outpatient Center in West Dundee, IL. The CDC recommends everyone six months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season.
Beyond vaccination, Abbas stresses the importance of proper handwashing to protect yourself from the flu. That means wet your hands with clean water, apply soap and scrub every surface of your hands for 15-20 seconds before you rinse your hands with clean water. If you need a way to keep track, sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice.
“If you get the flu, hydration is number one,” Abbas says. “Drink plenty of fluids, control your symptoms with medications like Acetaminophen and see a doctor to get tested.” Beyond that, “never underestimate the power of rest,” Abbas said.
To protect those around you, stay home from work or school if you feel sick. The flu is contagious and can be very serious, especially for people 65 and older, pregnant women, young children and people with chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes or heart disease. The virus can spread before symptoms start and continues to be contagious for five to seven days after you get sick.
“If seen by your doctor, there may be medications that you can take to shorten the length of the flu,” concluded Abbas.