We asked Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alfred Seekamp how to stay healthy during flu season. Here’s what he said.
Q: What are some simple ways to avoid catching the flu this year?
Dr. Seekamp: The best way to prevent the flu is to be vaccinated. There are also some things we all can do to stop the spread of germs, including:
- Getting plenty of rest, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet
- Washing your hands often with soap and water, or using an alcohol-based hand cleaner
- Avoiding touching your mouth, eyes, and nose
- Covering your cough (using a tissue that you throw away is best)
- Avoiding being around people who are sick and, if you are sick, staying at home
Q: How do you know if you have the flu or just a common cold?
Dr. Seekamp: Colds and the flu are both respiratory illnesses, but are caused by different viruses. The symptoms can be very similar, but usually are more intense with the flu (fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and dry cough). With a cold you are more likely to have a runny or stuffy nose than you are with the flu.
Q: When should you see your doctor if you think you have the flu?
Dr. Seekamp: Most often with rest and self-care measures, people are back to normal in about two weeks. If symptoms are not improving or are getting worse, it is always a good idea to contact your provider’s office for more specific advice. This is especially true for patients who have other medical conditions, are pregnant, or are very young or older.