One in 6 people in the United States will catch the flu this season. While the timing of the flu is unpredictable, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds citizens that the seasonal flu can begin as early as October and tends to peak between December and February. Those at higher risk for flu complications include young children, pregnant women, elderly, and those suffering from medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or chronic lung disease.
According to the CDC, the most important step in protecting yourself against the flu is to get vaccinated. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated as soon as flu vaccines become available. While children under 6 months of age are too young to be vaccinated, it is strongly encouraged that the people who care for them should be vaccinated instead. Aside from being vaccinated, other ways to help reduce the spread of influenza include:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that could host germs (especially children's toys and cell phones)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as germs quickly spread this way
Symptoms of the flu start 1 to 4 days after the virus enters the body. Unlike the common cold, symptoms of the flu come on suddenly. They may include fevers, chills, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, fatigue, muscle and body aches. Additionally, irregular vomiting and diarrhea is more common in kids than adults. If you suspect that you, or the children in your life, have flu-like symptoms, contact a medical physician. By knowing the facts you can fight the flu!