Nobody likes to get sick, especially right around the holidays when so many of us are planning to travel across the country to visit family or plan delicious, lavish meals for all to enjoy. Unfortunately, the fall and winter months are notorious for more than being dark, cold, and stressful. The CDC notes that flu season is at its peak from December to March, spiking startlingly high in February--in other words, during the merry festivities and right after them as well.

 

The good news: you can keep yourself from falling excruciatingly ill this season, or at least to the point you cannot even get out of bed. Read on to learn what you need to know about the flu and how to keep yourself protected this year and years to come.

What Does the Flu Entail, Really?

Vomiting. Nausea. Maybe the occasional stuffy nose and coughing fits--these are the symptoms so many frequently associate with the flu. However, if you pay close attention, you will notice that the flu’s symptoms are often quite distinct from those of the common cold or a stomach bug. Specifically, flu symptoms usually hit you all at once. You might not get the classic first day warning signs that colds offer, like a stuffy nose or dry throat.

 

Additionally, the flu typically brings with it a fever. You might not feel just a little stuffed up or sore in the ears and throat; you might experience full-on body aches, specifically in the muscles. You also might feel very tired. On top of all this, you might still experience some of the common symptoms of a cold, like the sniffles, a headache, and some coughing.

How Can I Keep Myself From Getting It?

Now that you understand what the flu looks like, you might be asking yourself how you can keep yourself from catching it. Fortunately, there are precautions you can take to guard against the flu, include:

 

Get the flu shot. People often express doubts over the flu shot and whether it “really” works. While taking the shot doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get the flu, it can significantly decrease the risk. You should especially consider getting the flu shot if you are over the age of 65 or suffer from a weakened immune system.

 

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially after assisting with sick people. Your nose, eyes, and mouth are all easy places for germs to enter and start wreaking havoc. If you know that frequently rub your eyes or bite your nails, you will definitely want to be more aware of these habits around flu season. You should be particularly careful if you plan on being around anyone currently sick. If you have to handle a sick person’s belongings or administer care of any sort, consider investing in some durable sanitary gloves.

 

Take Care of Yourself! It may seem obvious, but it is always worth stressing: no matter how busy you are this holiday season, be sure to put your health first. Eat healthy, balanced meals, stay active, and allow yourself to rest when you feel overwhelmed. Stress (both physical and mental) absolutely affects your immune system. The weaker it is, the harder time it has staving off the flu.

 

Keep those hands squeaky clean! During flu season, you cannot afford to take any chances. Wash your hands frequently, especially after handling items used by multiple people over the course of a single day (think shopping carts, eating utensils, plates and cups, etc.) You might even consider keeping some hand sanitizer on hand should you not have regular access to soap and water.

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