At the start of Autumn, you’ll likely see signs advertising flu shots before piles of leaves or seasonal wreaths. “Get Your Flu Shot Here!” “Walk-Ins Welcome!” “Flu Shot Available – Stop By The Pharmacy!” While flu shots can make a tremendous impact in reducing the odds of succumbing to the flu, being too focused on flu shots can undermine the importance of taking other precautions to make sure that your Fall is flu-free.
In fact, annual flu shots are usually only seen as reducing your chances of getting a flu by sixty percent, meaning that extended or excessive exposure to contaminants along with reckless hygiene practices can make the precaution of a flu shot pointless. And unfortunately, a flu can be life-threatening for certain people. So how can we minimize the chances of getting the flu other than getting our annual flu shot?
Understanding the Flu
It’s important to realize that what we call “the flu” actually encompasses a very large, diverse family of viruses that affect the respiratory tract. The extremely broad nature of this disease, along with how easily spread it is through virus-containing droplets, make it one of the most common diseases, affecting around 60 million Americans every year.
Since this disease is transmitted through droplets, it is particularly effective at spreading around since symptoms include congestion, coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea. All of these symptoms produce these contagious droplets, meaning practically anything which can be touched can be a source of disease.
Sanitizing Your Environment
One of the first steps to take when flu season starts, especially if someone in your household is or has been affected this year by the flu, is making sure that your home is sanitized. Some great ways to do this, with thanks to this post from Huff Post, are:
- Wash blankets, sheets, and clothing used by sick people in your household with hot water on a daily basis
- Carefully disinfect all handles, knobs, or switches where hands are likely to make contact. Also consider television remotes, cell phones, and game controllers which you frequently use.
- Discard items like toothbrushes, ear plugs, or anything else which might hold contaminants and is easily replaced
- Bring out disposable cleaning supplies when sanitizing your home, making sure to throw them out when you’re done
Considering Additional Antiviral Drugs
Besides regular flu vaccinations, additional antiviral drugs can bolster your body’s defenses against flue season. This is an especially crucial precaution to consider when you are or are caring for someone who is particularly susceptible if stricken with the flu. These drugs include Tamiflu, Relenza, Symmetrel, and Flumadine.
If you think these antiviral drugs might be necessary, doctors recommend seeking them out sooner than later. Whereas a flu vaccination is usually around 60% effective, antiviral drugs can be as high as 90% effective when battling the flu – making you practically bulletproof this flu season if you find it difficult to avoid falling sick. Read more about antiviral drugs and additional treatment options at Flu.gov.
While a flu vaccination is highly recommended, especially for those who are particularly vulnerable to sickness, it’s important to remember the practices and additional options available to you to make sure that you’re doing all you can to stop the flu before it gets to you.
Article contributed by Rachel Pharlain