It does not matter if you make the rounds with your very clever Halloween costume (only you will really show up as The Joker) or chauffeur your child from one pumpkin carving party funland to the next, Autumn is rich in sweet memories – until you realize that the snuffing party-goer has to cough on the spread of pumpkin spice cupcakes. It's the start of the flu season and the fear overcomes you when you imagine what will happen when influenza enters your home.
But you can relax (a little) if you follow these expert recommendations.
Get your flu vaccine.
The best way to avoid a full-blown influenza case is to roll up a sleeve and get vaccinated, said William Schaffner, a professor specializing in infectious diseases, preventive medicine, and immunization policy. Faculty of Medicine at Vanderbilt University.
The influenza vaccine, which combines four different inactive flu strains, "provides some people with complete protection and some with partial protection," he said. There are some reasons why you may get flu-like symptoms even after you have been stabbed in the arm. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you may still catch cold or have been exposed to the flu before your vaccination or the two weeks after your body is still building immunity.
Anyone 6 months of age or older can receive the flu shot (some children up to the age of 8 need two doses in accordance with federal guidelines). The vaccine should be given in October to get maximum protection at the beginning of the season. Nevertheless, it is never too late to get the flu vaccine in the season. If you are needle-badged, you can ask your doctor if you are getting the vaccine with a nasal spray.
If you receive the injection, you may develop fever or sensitivity at the injection site, but this is generally better than the alternative, Schaffner said. People who have diabetes, a weakened immune system, are older or pregnant ̵
"They are more likely to get seriously ill when they come across the virus," he said.
Wash your hands. A lot.
If you're more of a tailgate person, you'll understand that the best offense against the flu is a strong defense. Scrub these hands long enough with soap and warm water to sing "Happy Birthday" song twice. A quick rinse is not enough.
Keep shared spaces clean to prevent the spread of germs, said Richard Webby, who conducts research on ecology of influenza at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. When your child comes home from school or is ready to play, steer it directly to the bathroom to wash their hands before touching anything in the house. This can help minimize the risk of welcoming unwanted viral guests into your home.
Avoid people coughing and sneezing.
Try to be aware of the signs of illness in practice, Schaffer said. During the flu season, it is no shame to give a friendly wave instead of a high-five. This can help reduce the likelihood that you (or your little party animal) will have a fever, pain and become ill. If exposure is unavoidable, you should pay attention to good hygiene.
Do you feel sick? Take an antiviral drug in hand
Influenza is a virus with a knack for adaptation. Because you have a virus and no bacterial infection, antibiotics do not help. In order to stop the flu in the bud, you need antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu. The sooner you take it, the better it works, Webby said. If you find that your child was actually standing next to Patient Zero when the birthday cake's candles were blown out and symptoms start to appear, do not wait – get the antiviral medication.
And if you call to request a prescription from your doctor, Webby said, the party should be kept to himself – just stay at home to reduce the risk of exposing the flu virus to others.