The arrival of the fall and winter months signals many things, including the beginning of flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity peaks between December and February.
Seasonal influenza can cause serious complications for people of any age, but children and the elderly are more vulnerable. The flu is most often associated with the sudden onset of fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, congestion, cough and sore throat. Most people recover within a few days to less than two weeks. Occasionally, complications such as pneumonia, bronchitis or other infections can occur.
The flu vaccine is your best chance of preventing the illness. Currently, the CDC recommends that anyone over 6 months of age receive an annual flu vaccine.
While there are many different types of flu viruses, the vaccine protects you against the viruses that experts believe will be most common that year.
In addition to getting your annual vaccine, here are some other tips to stay healthy this season:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and stay away from others when you feel under the weather.
- Wash your hands often using soap and warm water to protect against germs.
- Get plenty of sleep, stay physically active and drink plenty of water to keep your immune system strong.
- Manage your stress and eat a nutritious diet rich in healthy grains, fruits, vegetables and fiber.