According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the annual number of flu-related hospitalizations has ranged from 140,000 to 710,000 since 2010. The number of flu-related deaths has been as high as 56,000 in a single year during that same time span.
Since the flu can be so severe, it’s important to know how to prevent the illness and what to do if you catch it.
Ways to prevent the flu
Suggested preventative measures have not changed much in recent years and include:
– Get an annual flu shot
– Wash your hands frequently
– Stay away from ill people
– Prevent the spread of illness by covering your mouth when coughing
It’s also important to maintain a balanced diet and take plenty of vitamins as your doctor recommends to keep your immune system in top shape.
If you do come down with the flu, there are many ways you can alleviate the symptoms and nurse yourself back to health.
Stay hydrated: Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly leave you dehydrated. Consume plenty of water, fruit juice and beverages with electrolytes. Stay away from caffeinated drinks as they can worsen symptoms.
Rest: Let your body use its energy to fight off your infection. Sleep can also help your immune system work more efficiently, so get plenty of sleep at night and take a nap if you’re drowsy.
Gargle with salt water: This can help loosen up the mucous in your throat and ease the pressure in your ears if they’re stuffy.
Stay home: Since the flu has weakened your immune system, it’s a good idea to stay away from others to decrease the risk of catching another illness. This practice also prevents you from spreading the flu to others.
When to seek medical help
In severe cases, home remedies won’t help you recover from the flu. Here are the signs it’s time to head to the hospital:
– Trouble breathing
– Coughing up blood
– Too weak to stand
– Sudden dizziness
If you have a medical condition and want to know more about staying healthy this flu season, contact your primary care physician to see which steps you can take.