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How to Protect Yourself During Flu Season

January 11th, 2012 Healthy Living

Now that we're in the midst of flu season, it's important to take the necessary steps to ensure that you're protected against the disease. If you come down with the flu, there is a chance it could become serious and may land you in the hospital. Luckily, keeping yourself safe isn't too difficult. The Centers for Disease Control has outlined a simple three-step process to stay healthy this flu season.

1. Get vaccinated. The reason you need to get a flu vaccine every year is that the virus adapts very quickly. It develops resistances to last year's vaccine in no time. Although there are a number of different flu viruses out there, researchers determine the three that they feel will be the most common in a given year and vaccinate against them.

Getting a flu shot is especially important for people at a high risk of complications related to the disease, including the elderly and young children, as well as asthmatics and diabetics. The CDC also recommends that those working closely with others - such as health care employees - receive their vaccinations to avoid infection.

2. Preventative measures. If you find yourself coming down with a flu-like illness, it's best to stay home and give yourself 24 hours to see if the fever dies down. Your fever should go down on its own, but if it persists for two or three days, you should consider visiting the doctor to see if there isn't a more serious cause for your sickness.

3. Take your medicine. Antiviral drugs are specially prescribed by doctors to people who have the flu. They differ from antibiotics in that they don't actually destroy the virus, but rather help shorten the length of symptoms and make the illness milder for infected individuals.