Every year, healthcare professionals brace themselves for the coming flu season, despite the fact that the flu virus is notoriously impossible to predict. The only thing we know for certain is that the flu will spread each year. Beyond that, we must simply adopt a "wait and see" attitude regarding the flu, since the timing, severity, and length of the flu season are variables that change from year to year.
Flu Fact #1: The flu virus evolves and changes over time, and new strains of the virus can appear each year.
Flu Fact #2: The timing of the flu season is unpredictable, and it varies in different parts of the country.
Flu Fact #3: It is possible to protect yourself from contracting the flu. Take a few common sense precautions, such as washing your hands often to reduce the spread of germs and avoiding people who are sick with the flu. Vaccines are another way to help protect yourself from contracting the virus.
Flu Fact #4: If you do become sick with the flu, stay home so you can avoid spreading the virus to others. It is possible to take medications that can reduce the length of the flu, but those must be taken within the first 48 hours of the illness, so be sure to see your physician as soon as you start to feel symptoms.
During the holiday season, viruses are easy to spread, and this is exactly the time when we all want to avoid becoming sick. As a result, "hand hygiene should be a top priority," says Donna Currie, director of clinical outcomes at Advocate Health Care. "To stay germ-free this holiday season, the best advice is to wash your hands whenever possible."
With the onset of the prime flu season, as well as the increased exposure to family and friends at holiday gatherings, hand hygiene should be at the top of our minds at all times. Practicing proper hand hygiene is an easy, yet effective, way to stay healthy and protect others from the spread of germs.