NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Sniffling, sneezing, coughing, wheezing are some of the symptoms that let everyone know the flu season is back in full swing.
The flu season can begin as early as October and lasts throughout winter with the most cases traditionally documented as occurring between January and March.
“When I think of flu season, I imagine someone laid up in bed for at least a week with fevers, chills, body aches, and some unimaginable congestion, “ said Staff Sgt. Greer Keith, 99th Medical Operation Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Allergy and Immunizations.
As the 2012-13 flu season approaches there are five easy tips to avoiding or beating this year’s bug.
1. Get the flu vaccination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.
“Getting the shot or mist is the best way to protect yourself from catching the flu because the vaccinations are designed to help your body build its immunities,” Keith said. “Immunizations are the best way to strengthen your immune system, and vaccination builds greater protection all season long.”
The CDC recommends getting the vaccination for the current flu season as soon as possible to build immunity faster.
2. Cover up when sneezing or coughing.
One of the pitfalls of flu season is all the people coughing and sneezing. People with the flu can spread it to others up to about six feet away. Most experts think that flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets made when people with the flu cough or sneeze. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
Those already infected can help prevent the spread of the virus by simply covering their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. Protection could even include wearing a simple face mask.
3. Wash your hands.
According to the CDC, to avoid contamination and to limit the spread of the flu virus, people should wash their hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
“One of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of the flu is by washing your hands before eating or any other activity involving touching surfaces out in the public,” Keith said.
4. Avoid contaminated persons or areas
One way to avoid the flu is to avoid those already contaminated with the flu virus. Stay away from areas of high concern like hospitals unless medically necessary.
“Try and avoid exposure to those you know or suspect to have the flu,” Keith said. “That being said, in reality we can’t always avoid people who are infected and those who are cannot always stay home in this economy, so really your best method of prevention is to get the vaccination.”
5. Diet and exercise
“Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime is shown to keep healthy or boost the immune system,” Keith said.
The immune system is the body’s primary defense against all contagions. It’s easier for those with stronger immune systems to fight off the flu than those with weak ones.
Timing of the flu is season is very unpredictable and can vary from season to season.
According to the CDC, most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning one day before symptoms develop and up to five to seven days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some people can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those people may still spread the virus to others.
“The immunization clinic has scheduled times for the public to get this year’s vaccinations,” Keith said. “They are the best preventative measure, so stay posted for flu clinic hours as we are walk-in only, no appointment is needed.”
The 99th Medical Operations Squadron Immunization Clinic will hold a walk-in clinic in the hospital’s main lobby for all active-duty service members today from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.. There will be a Flu line Oct. 1 to 5 at the Club from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Shots will also be offered Oct. 9 – 12 from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the base theater to all DOD card holders. Pediatric doses will also be available for children at the base theater. For more information, call the Immunization Clinic at (702) 653-2410.