Flu Season: How to Protect Yourself with Tips From a Professional

The cold weather is officially here, and so is flu season. Although we’ve been concerned with COVID-19 lately and how to protect ourselves from the virus, we can’t forget about the flu. Flu season typically begins in October and lasts throughout the winter, which is why I recently spoke with Margaret Rivera, Director of Clinic Operations at Camino Clinic, to learn how to protect myself and others from contracting the illness. Camino Clinic is a part of Camino Health Center, a bilingual and multicultural health center located in Charlotte, NC. Throughout this blog, I’ll provide you with the same tips Rivera equipped me with, so you can protect yourself from the flu this season.

Before we get into the tips, let’s first talk about what the flu is. According to the Mayo Clinic, influenza, also known as the flu, is an infection that disrupts the respiratory system, including the nose, throat, and lungs. Typically, young children, senior citizens, and people with compromised immune systems are often at a higher risk of contracting the flu than others. Flu symptoms are very similar to symptoms of a common cold. However, the flu tends to set in faster than the common cold and makes you feel much worse. Symptoms of the flu often include fever, chills, aching muscles, and fatigue, to name a few. Now that we know a little more about the flu, it’s time to go over the tips that Rivera was kind enough to offer us.

Camino Clinic nurse assisting a young, sick patient

1. Get Vaccinated

Getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to avoid the flu. According to the CDC, your risk of contracting the flu reduces by 40% – 60% after you have received the vaccine. Although the vaccine does not guarantee immunity from the flu, it can limit the severity of the illness if you do contract it. Camino Clinic offers flu vaccinations to all of their members who wish to receive it. Contact them today by visiting their website or by phone at 704.596.5606.

2. Wash your hands

Throughout the day, you touch a lot of surfaces covered in germs. From doorknobs and door handles to handrails and toilets, whatever you have come into contact with, it is always a good idea to wash your hands afterward. Rivera reminds us that washing your hands with soap and warm water can protect you from more illnesses than just the flu. Always make sure you’re washing your hands to remove certain germs that can and will make you sick. 

3. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose

Maybe you can’t wash your hands after touching a surface covered in germs. What should you do? Since the flu is a contagious respiratory infection, Rivera advises us not to touch our faces, specifically our mouths, eyes, and noses, as these are entryways for germs into our bodies. If we can avoid touching our faces, we can reduce the risk of contracting the flu as well as many other illnesses.

4. Avoid contact with sick people

If someone you see on a regular basis is sick, it is a good idea to distance yourself from them until they start to feel better. While you cannot control who around you is sick, you can at least try to avoid contact with that person. By limiting your contact with sick people and practicing the other tips mentioned throughout this blog, you will also limit your chances of getting sick. 

5. Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing

Germs are easily spread whenever sneezing and coughing. Sneezing and coughing into a tissue can reduce the spread of germs and protect others from getting sick. If you do not have a tissue, it is safe to sneeze/cough into your elbow, but you should avoid sneezing and coughing into your hands as you are more likely to spread germs when touching other surfaces. If you sneeze/cough into your hands or blow your nose, you should always wash your hands directly afterward.

6. Stay home if you are sick

No one likes to miss out on events with friends and family, but when you’re sick, Rivera advises us to stay home and rest. By staying at home when you’re sick, you allow yourself to recover while protecting those around you from getting sick. Don’t force yourself to be around others. There will always be another event to attend. Just stay home and rest when you’re feeling unwell to allow yourself time to recover. 

With these tips from Rivera, you are now equipped to better protect yourself not only from the flu but also from other illnesses as well. However, these tips do not guarantee you will be safe from the germs and illnesses that are out there. Rivera would like to remind you that Camino Clinic is here to help you. If you need medical assistance or more information, contact Camino Clinic at 704.596.5606 or visit their website.