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How to Stay Flu Free This Season

Submitted by Kurt Arbuckle on January 10, 2012 – 7:38 pm

Flu season typically lasts from the fall through early spring. During this time, some 200,000 people will be hospitalized and as many as 50,000 (with an average of 23,000) may die from the disease.

The flu is more dangerous for some groups of people: adults over age 65, children under age 2 and people of any age who have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure or lung disease. Anyone who contracts the flu is in for at least five days of misery, so we all want to avoid it. 

Here are some reminders to help you and your family stay flu free for the season.

Get vaccinated. The flu is caused by one of many forms of the influenza virus. Every year, scientists
figure out the three forms most likely to cause illness and produce a vaccine for those three forms. Even
if you are exposed to a different form, it is likely that the vaccine will either prevent or lessen your illness. Because the vaccine is made from dead virus, it cannot cause the flu.

Hate needles? No problem. There is a mist version for healthy people between ages 2 and 49 who are not pregnant. If you are 18 to 64, you can take a version that is given just under the skin with a very small needle. There are very few side effects of the vaccination, but if you have health problems, allergies or are pregnant, be sure to discuss them with your health care provider.

Encourage your family, friends and co-workers to contain any coughs or sneezes in a tissue disposing of it immediately; and be a good example. If a tissue is not available, then cough or sneeze into your sleeve near the elbow to be as far as possible away from hands. Coughs and sneezes are the main way the flu is spread.

Wash your hands as often as possible with soap and water. Develop the habit of not touching
your mouth, nose or eyes with your hands.

Try to avoid people who are sick, especially if they are coughing and sneezing.

If you get the flu, you can get antiviral medication from your doctor that may shorten or lessen your

If you have a fever, stay home until you have been fever free for 24 hours. Do not stop breast feeding if you get the flu.

— Kurt Arbuckle is an attorney with Kurt Arbuckle, PC in Houston, Texas.