How to cope with the flu season

Flu season is upon us, and it’s hitting hard! But by taking a few simple steps you can greatly reduce the risk of your family catching influenza this year.

How is influenza spread?

Influenza is highly contagious and is spread in two main ways:

  • breathing in droplets from an infected person’s sneezes and coughs

  • touching your mouth, nose or eyes after touching a contaminated surface.

People can be contagious from the day before they develop symptoms until up to a week after they get sick.

What can you do to prevent getting sick?

Here are some steps you can take to prevent getting sick from influenza:

  1. Vaccination: The best protection you and your family has against influenza is vaccination. Vaccination greatly reduces your chances of catching influenza. If you are in any doubt, talk to your doctor about the benefits of vaccination and whether it’s safe for you.
  2. Hand-washing: Wash your hands regularly. Use hot water and soap, as well as antibacterial gel. Influenza viruses can survive on hands for up to thirty minutes.
  3. Good personal hygiene: Keep your hands away from your eyes, mouth, and nose. Dispose of used tissues – flu viruses can survive on tissues for up to twelve hours.
  4. Clean household surfaces: Keep the surfaces in your home clean, and disinfect them every few days. Influenza can survive on hard surfaces for up to two days, so its important to clean high traffic areas like tables, benches, door handles and taps.
  5. Avoid crowded areas when its influenza season: Stay away from anyone with the flu. Contact passes the disease on, so stay back from anyone who is sneezing, coughing, blowing their nose, or showing any signs of sickness.
  6. Consider wearing a mask: Wearing a surgical mask in public is not for everyone, but a mask covering your nose and mouth can reduce your risk of flu drastically.

How can you avoid spreading influenza?

If you already have influenza, then the last thing you want to do is spread the virus to your family members and friends. Consider following these steps to keep your loved ones safe:

  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough

  • Dispose of your tissues thoughtfully – put them in the bin quickly and don’t leave used tissues lying around

  • Stay home if you’re unwell. You may not have the flu, but being exposed to it while sick will all but guarantee contagion. Stay home if you’re even slightly run down.

  • Wash your hands regularly. Use hot water and soap, as well as antibacterial gel.

  • Don’t share your personal items with others since their surface might be contaminated by the flu virus

It’s tough to prevent the flu when everyone else has it, but being smart can help you to avoid the worst of flu season!

Healthdirect have recently launched a free Flu Advice voice app which is available on smart devices, Google Home and Amazon Echo. You can ask the device a specific question on colds and flu — including the current flu risk in your state or territory.