The fall season is an exciting time! There are fun activities to do with loved ones, such as visiting a pumpkin patch, bonding over s’mores at a bonfire, and staying cozy at home with a movie night. But one not-so-fun fall activity: getting sick with the flu!
So, how can you protect yourself and not miss out on fun things with friends and family? We got you covered!
What is the flu?
The flu is a virus that infects the nose, throat, and lungs. It spreads through the air when a person with the virus sneezes, coughs, or speaks. The flu can also spread through objects that someone with the virus touched, sneezed, or coughed on. When a healthy person touches these germ-covered objects and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, the virus can enter their body. The result? A telltale cast of gross symptoms, including headache, sore throat, coughing, fever and chills, and feeling super tired.
How can I protect myself?
Although the flu spreads easily, there are good health habits you can practice to protect yourself and others:
- Get the flu shot – The best way to reduce your risk for the flu and its possible serious complications is to get vaccinated. Not only does getting vaccinated protect you, but it also protects the people around you since there’s less chance you’ll catch the flu and pass it on. Since the flu changes form roughly ever year, a new flu shot is made available in the early fall. Get the flu shot every year so you don’t miss out on all the fall fun!
- Wash your hands – Washing your hands well and often will help protect you from germs and other illnesses there aren’t vaccines for, like the common cold. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Consider carrying a hand sanitizer to be extra safe!
- Keep your distance from people who are sick – Avoiding close contact with people who are sick with the flu can help you stay clear from getting sick too. If you need to be around someone who is sick, considering wearing a mask.
- Stay home if you are sick – Staying home from work, school, and other activities if you are sick can protect those around you, like your Elders, and others whose bodies may not be able to fight off the flu well.
- Cover your mouth and nose – When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. You can also cough or sneeze into your elbow. The flu is spread mainly by droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk, so covering your mouth and nose can protect those around you.
- Practice other good health habits – Getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, drinking plenty of fluids, and being physically active can help you stay healthy and not get the flu.
If you want to be able to go to that corn maze or your annual Friendsgiving, stay safe from the flu by following the tips above! For more information about the flu and protecting yourself, check out these resources:
Author: Stephanie Paz is a Tigua Indian of Ysleta del Sur Pueblo. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The University of Texas at El Paso and is working towards a Master of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Promotion from New Mexico State University.