Prepare for Flu Season

Learn what you can do to avoid seasonal influenza.

When the temperatures fall and colorful leaves appear, the time has come for seasonal illnesses such as influenza. The good news is by taking the proper precautions, you can reduce your risk of getting sick.

“Getting vaccinated for the flu in the fall is one of the most important things you can do to minimize the likelihood that you will experience influenza,” says Ken Johnson, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Operations with Prevea Health Western Wisconsin. “It is not a disease without significant risk and can kill more than 10,000 people in the United States on an average annual basis. That is why I recommend that everyone get the flu shot.”

If you are nervous about getting a flu shot, keep in mind that it is not a live virus and will not cause influenza. If you experience body aches, congestion, or fever shortly following your vaccination, the side effects will be mild and short-lived.

In addition to getting vaccinated, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after being out in public, before eating, and after going to the bathroom. Also, avoid touching your face, and take care of your health by getting plenty of exercise, nutrient-rich food, rest, and water.

What to Do If You Get Sick

Even if you follow proper precautions, you may still come down with a case of the flu.

Telltale symptoms include:

  • congestion
  • dry cough
  • fatigue
  • high fever
  • headache
  • muscle aches and chills

You are likely to experience symptoms for seven to 10 days. However, the flu tends to be less severe and resolves more quickly if you have had a flu vaccination. If you suspect you have the flu, visit your primary care provider as early as possible. He or she may administer an antiviral medication to mitigate your symptoms and the duration of your illness.

Lessons Learned from COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic introduced best practices we can employ to protect one another from respiratory diseases.

The following can help you lower your risk of getting sick:

  • Avoid contact with people who are sick. If you are sick, stay home.
  • Do not touch your face. Be especially careful to not put your hands in your eyes, mouth, or nose.
  • Practice frequent handwashing. Scrub with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.­

A primary care provider can administer your annual flu vaccine. To find a PCP, visit HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital or HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital.

You may also be interested in “5 Steps to Guard Your Baby from the Flu.”