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How To Avoid Getting Sick with the Flu

Cartersville Medical Center offers advice on how to avoid the influenza virus, as flu season spikes to "Intense" as across the country.

Caused by the influenza virus, the flu spreads around the world each winter, but the strains are usually different from one year to the next, according to Cartersville Medical Center's online health library.

Although this year's vaccine is only about 60 percent effective, the shot is still the best way to prevent the flu, experts say. In about two weeks, the vaccine will kick in and protect you against the virus, which is spread through the air and by touch.

Someone infected with the virus may sneeze or cough, releasing droplets into the air, and if another breathes in those droplets, he or she could become infected. Touching a contaminated surface also could transfer the virus from your hand to your mouth or nose.

General Measures to Reduce Your Risk

Things anyone can do to reduce the risk of getting the flu include:

  • Wash your hands often, especially when you come in contact with someone who is sick. Wash your hands for 15 to 20 seconds with soap and water. Rubbing alcohol-based cleaners on your hands is also helpful.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have respiratory infections. The flu can spread starting one day before and ending seven days after symptoms appear. If have to be in close contact with a sick person, wear a face mask or a disposable respirator.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the tissue after you use it. Coughing or sneezing into your elbow or upper sleeve is also helpful.
  • Do not spit.
  • Do not share drinks or personal items.
  • Do not bite your nails or put your hands near your eyes, mouth, or nose.
  • Keep surfaces clean by wiping them with a household disinfectant.

How to Avoid Spreading the Flu

If you already have the virus, practicing these steps will help you avoid spreading it to others:

  • Avoid close contact with people. Before you can return to school or work, your fever should be gone for at least 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medicine. This could take up to seven days after symptoms first appear. It is important to stay home if you have the flu, leaving your house only to go see your doctor.
  • If you cannot avoid close contact, cover your mouth and nose with a face mask.
  • Wash your hands for 15 to 20 seconds with soap and water. Even if someone in your house has the flu, you may be able to avoid getting sick by washing your hands. Using a hand sanitizer is also helpful.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the tissue after you use it. Coughing or sneezing into your elbow or upper sleeve will also keep you from spreading the flu with your hands. Do not spit.
  • Do not share drinks or personal items.
  • Wash eating utensils with hot water and soap.
  • Do not bite your nails or put your hands near your eyes, mouth or nose.
  • Keep surfaces clean by wiping them with a household disinfectant.
  • Use the hot setting on your washing machine when washing infected laundry.

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