Flu season is officially here.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. This can infect the throat, nose and sometimes lungs.
RADIO.COM interviewed Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, a medical correspondent and medical director of City MD, who says the best way to prevent the flu is getting a flu vaccine each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, peak infections generally hit all across the United States between December and February.
If you do get the flu, here are some things you can do to help prevent giving it to others.
Stay Home, It's Contagious
If you do get the flu, Dr. Nesheiwat said the most beneficial thing is to stay home so you won't spread it around. You should stay away from others for at least 24 hours after symptoms have completely disappeared without the use of fever-reducing medicine. Dr. Nesheiwat said once the fever is gone for the day, you are no longer contagious. That is when you can return to work or school. She recommends checking with your local doctor if you are unsure.
Get Plenty of Rest
One of the best way to manage your flu symptoms is rest. Dr. Nesheiwat said that is the best thing you can do for yourself and others is stay home and sleep. That way you won't spread your germs and will be more likely to be effective at school and work.
You may feel weak while having the flu, but it's important to drink a lot of fluids. Dr. Nesheiwat said dehydration is a risk when people have a fever and are sick. The Health and Human Services Department said clear fluids are best, including water and sports drinks. Staying hydrated can also soothe sore throats.
Wash Your Hands
It's always important to wash your hands, but it's critical when you get the flu. According to the CDC, you should wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water isn't available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Dr. Nesheiwat recommends always washing your hands for 20 seconds or more.
Clean and Disinfect Your Home
It's important to keep the flu from taking over your home. Dr. Nesheiwat said the flu spreads when the sick person coughs, sneezes or even talks. It can affect a person as far as 6 feet away. Germs from the flu are also spread by touching something that has viruses on it. According to TODAY, the flu can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours. Anything you touch, just clean it!
Dr. Nesheiwat said smoking can worsen flu symptoms. Smokers get colds more often than non-smokers. Their symptoms are worse and last longer. Smoking damages the cells in the lung which makes it harder to fight off the flu or even a cold. She said if you are sick, do not smoke or don't let anyone around you do it.