Ways to Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Nobody likes the flu.

You know the flu when you’ve got it—or rather, when it’s gotten its hooks into you. Fever, aches, chills and sweats, headache, a steady dry cough, fatigue: the flu is no fun. 

Thankfully there are some easy ways to stay healthy during flu season, and help prevent the spread of the flu.

Sweezing into your elbows, not your hands, is one way to help others stay healthy during flu season.
Sweezing into your elbows, not your hands, is one way to help others stay healthy during flu season.

2022 Flu Season Dangers

This Year's Strain is a Nasty One

With all the focus on Covid-19 in recent years, it’s easy to overlook flu season. But like an unwanted dinner guest that overstays its welcome, that annual nasty virus is back again.

And the 2022 flu season is shaping up as a doozy, with young children, seniors, and people with certain pre-existing conditions most at risk of serious illness, hospitalizations, or even death. It started a bit earlier this year, and is hitting the US unusually hard.

To help spread the word about fighting the flu, the first week of December is National Influenza Vaccination Week, when the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) reminds people to roll up their sleeves and get their flu shots. Vaccinations can help stop the spread of this nasty bug.

What is the Flu?

The flu, or influenza, is a type of infection that attacks the human respiratory system: the nose, throat and lungs. 

Flu season typically starts in October when weather begins cooling down and kicks into high gear during winter. It’s a highly contagious virus that spreads from person to person as droplets, through coughing, sneezing and even talking. It usually lasts for a few days, but symptoms can linger. Like with Covid, you may not be showing symptoms but could be contagious nonetheless.

How to Stop the Flu

Here are some ways you can do your part to keep the bug to dull roar.

  • Get a flu vaccine. Flu shots help minimize the flu’s impact. This year’s flu shot has about a 50% efficacy rate against hospitalization from the major strain of the flu, per the CDC. There are also nasal spray vaccines, if you want to avoid needles. If you have any questions or concerns about getting a flu shot, talk with your doctor
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick. No merit badges for toughening up when you’re phlegmy and bringing your whole (sick) self to work. Work from home, if possible. Or take a day off if you can. 
  • Avoid close contact. That said, not everyone has that ability to call out sick with the flu. If you have to go in, keep your distance. Avoid close contact with your friends and co-workers. Minimize interactions, and let folks know that you’re under the weather. After the past few years, they’ll understand and appreciate it.
  • Cover up your nose and mouth. Remember those small packs of tissues your mom used to get? Carry some of those. If you’re sniffling, use them. Gotta sneeze? Do it into your elbow, not the palm of your hand.
  • Wash, wash, wash your hands. Scrub them up! You know the drill by now. Twenty seconds of soap and warm water should kill off germs on your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer, too. At this point it’s pretty much everywhere, so even if you’re not packing you can easily hit the Purell. Pro tip: carry some moisturizer. Washing hands a lot can leave your skin chapped, cracked and irritated. Lotion helps to soothe those dry knuckles.
  • Stop touching your face. Eyes, nose, and mouth? They’re lovely as is. Leave them be.
  • Break out the humidifier. House dry when the heat’s on? A humidifier or vaporizer can help tame those coughs you get in the dry air at night, leading to a better night’s sleep – which is good for all that ails you.

By combining smart preventive steps and common sense healthfulness, you can stay healthy during flu season, and help keep your friends and family healthy too.