Top Ways to Protect Yourself and Your Family From the Flu

Flu is active across much of the United States right now. Here are simple steps to keep yourself and your family healthy throughout this influenza season.

Take good care of yourself, starting with the basics.

Get enough sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours per night for adults. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Make time for regular exercise (be sure to sanitize gym equipment before and after use). Fill your plate with fruits and veggies to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Stay away from people who are sick.

Scrub, scrub, scrub!

Wash your hands even more often than usual. Wash them after you’re in public, pushing a shopping cart, touching railings, shaking hands, etc. Wash them before you eat. Wash them before you prep food. Use soap and warm water and scrub for 20 seconds, or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.”

On a related note, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home, except to get medical care.

If you’re feeling ill, give Altru’s influenza hotline a call at 701.780.6FLU (6358) to seek medical advice from a registered nurse. This will help you know if you should come in to be seen and tested for influenza.

If you do come in, we encourage you to use the masks available at the clinics or emergency room to prevent spreading germs.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated. 

These include light switches, appliance handles, door knobs, remote controls and more. Wash dishes, such as cups and water bottles, well before reusing. Don’t share utensils.

Get the flu shot. (Yes, you still can.)

Flu shots are still available and important if you have not yet had one this season. “Getting the flu shot is one of the best ways to protect yourself from the flu,” shares Dr. Joshua Deere, medical director of primary care and family medicine provider. “While this year’s vaccine may not be formulated for all strains of influenza, it may lessen the severity and duration of the illness.” Call your provider’s office, or use MyHealth to make an appointment. Shots are available for adults and children over six months of age.

Flu Symptoms
Influenza symptoms can range from mild to severe. The flu is different than a cold. Symptoms of the flu usually come on suddenly. Listed are differences between the flu and cold.

Flu Cold
Muscle aches and pains Mainly in the head and nose
Exhaustion, feeling wiped out, headache Runny and stuffy nose, sore throat
High fever Low fever

Flu Complications
Most who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. However, some will develop complications, some of which can be life-threatening.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks when they have the flu, and people with congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition.

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