(I partnered with MinuteClinic for this post. Any opinions are 100% my own.)
School is in full swing, the Fall decorations are coming out of storage, and pies are in the oven. That can only mean one thing. Cold and flu season is here. Not something we throw parties and buy gifts for, but the cold and flu will welcome themselves into many bodies, uninvited. I’ve got a Printable Flu or Cold Symptom Checker to help you when those pesky guests arrive!
Before we get to the Printable Flu or Cold Symptom Checker, lets talk about the flu. What is the flu and why do people despise it so much? The flu is a respiratory infection caused by a virus, that can develop very quickly. With the flu, you almost always have a fever and other common symptoms can include headache, sore throat, dry cough, stuffy or runny nose and muscle aches. I have toddler twins potty training and even cleaning up the bathroom sounds better than the flu, don’t you think? 😉
Now that we’ve cleared up what the flu is, lets discuss the “flu season” we all hear about. When does the flu season begin? Well you see, flu season doesn’t necessarily have a specific start and end date. The timing, severity and length of the annual flu season vary, but outbreaks can begin as early as October, and has a tendency of peaking around January. Considering we are already into October, try some of these daily tips to keep healthy and help to prevent cold and flu:
- Wash your hands with soap and water often, especially after you cough or sneeze. When you wash, wet hands thoroughly, work up a lather and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based sanitizer is not as effective as hand-washing but it’s a great alternative.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, and discard of the tissue in the trash. Sneeze into your sleeve if a tissue is not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as germs can spread easily that way.
- Avoid contact with those who are sick. Flu is believed to be mainly spread from person-to-person contact (coughing and sneezing doesn’t help!)
- If you are sick, stay home from school or work to keep others from getting infected.
- Disinfect surfaces. Use a product that kills household germs and be sure to thoroughly wipe down handles, faucets and all surfaces that you touch often – don’t forget your workspace and car! If you use public transportation, be sure to wash your hands as soon as you get to your destination.
- Think you might be sick? Don’t wait and see – get help right away! Early flu treatment (within 72 hours of exposure to the virus) has been proven to reduce the length and severity of illness. If you think you might have the flu or have been exposed to someone with the flu, see a health care professional right away.
The other big thing that people want to know, especially parents, is how long is the flu contagious? The flu can spread before someone even realizes they’re sick, since most healthy adults can infect others 1 day before and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. For children and those with weakened immune systems, that period can be even longer. Those absent days your allotted at work and school can quickly get eaten up by the flu so it’s important to stay healthy, and consider the flu shot. Did you know there are several options available for flu shots?
- Regular Seasonal Flu Shots (Two Options offered at MinuteClinic): Trivalent Vaccine (TIV) contains 2 A strains and 1 B strain of the influenza virus. This has been the standard flu vaccine since the late 1970s. Quadrivalent Vaccine (QIV) protects against an additional B strain. This vaccine was created based on research from the past 12 influenza seasons. This vaccine offers an additional layer of protection against the flu.
- Intradermal Shot: This flu shot is for those who might be squeamish about needles (approved for adults 18-64; may not be covered by all insurance providers) (Not offered at MinuteClinic this year.)
- High Dose Vaccination: This is for customers 65 years and up, and provides an elevated level of antigens, which create a stronger immune response in seniors.
If you happen to grab your flu shot at MinuteClinic this year, you will receive a 20% Off CVS/pharmacy Shopping Pass! (Not available in MA, RI, PA and NY)
To learn more about the flu, how to keep yourself healthy, and what to do if you do get sick visit www.cdc.gov/flu and MinuteClinic’s vaccination offerings. Plus, check out tips and ways to fight the flu from MinuteClinic Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer Angela Patterson and grab your Printable Flu or Cold Symptom Checker below!