How to Protect Yourself Against the Flu Virus

Be sure to take extra precautions against getting the flu this season.

Be sure to take extra precautions against getting the flu this season.

It is never any fun to get sick during the winter. Having a stuffy nose, dry cough, and persistent sneeze can keep you up through the night and leave you feeling drained in the morning. You probably know how to prevent getting a cold, but do you know how to prevent yourself from getting the flu?  Although both illnesses have similar symptoms, one puts you at a significantly higher risk of complication than the other. Flu season comes and goes every year, but this year's flu is proving to be one of the deadliest strains on record. Find out what's making this flu season so deadly and how to protect yourself from it.

Deadliest Flu Season on Record
According to Bloomberg, this year's influenza outbreak could be the deadliest one since the outbreak in 2003 and the more recent swine flu epidemic in 2009. In a normal flu season, the number of reported cases are usually highest on the east coast before spreading throughout the rest of the country. However, this year's strain of the flu has spread throughout the majority of the United States in a matter of weeks. Doctors and researchers are still working to understand the flu outbreak and what is causing this sudden spike in deaths. So far, they've discovered that the strain that is currently causing the majority of deaths in recent weeks is different than the strain the flu vaccine is said to protect against, and is expected to cause even more deaths in the coming weeks.

How to Protect Yourself
So how should you protect yourself from the virus? Flu prevention involves similar steps to avoiding getting sick in general.  In a recent interview with National Public Radio, Dr. Adrian Cotton, chief of medical operations for the California-based hospital Loma Linda University Health, noted that the two most important things you can do to protect yourself from getting the flu are washing your hands and getting the flu vaccine as soon as possible. In addition to washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your mouth, nose, and eyes are easy ways to prevent the spread of germs.

Although this year's flu vaccine is partially ineffective against the current strain of the disease, it is still important to get it because if you were to get the flu, having had the vaccine would lessen its impact on your body. In the event that you do start to experience flu-like symptoms, be sure to take any antiviral medications that are prescribed to you by your doctor to help you achieve a speedy recovery. 

Flu season is a yearly occurrence, but this year's flu outbreak has already broken records of previous outbreaks. Be sure to arm yourself against the deadly disease by following the steps mentioned above.