You can reduce your risk of catching a cold or the flu by washing your hands frequently, which stops the spread of germs. Eating healthfully, exercising and getting enough sleep are also important. Cough and sneeze into the inside of your elbow (rather than into your hand). Clean table and counter tops, toys, door handles and bathroom facilities with anti-bacterial disinfectant to stop the spread of germs.
The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the influenza vaccine each fall or anytime throughout the flu season. The vaccine is available by shot or by nasal spray. The vaccines work by exposing your immune system to the flu virus. Your body will build up antibodies to the virus to protect you from getting the flu. The flu shot contains dead viruses. The flu shot is safe for adults and all children 6 months of age and older, and it is strongly recommended that all children 6 months of age to 59 months of age get a yearly flu shot. The nasal-spray vaccine contains live but weakened viruses. It is safe for adults and all children 2 years of age and older who do not have asthma or breathing problems. You cannot get the flu from the flu shot or the nasal-spray vaccine. Some people who get the vaccine will still get the flu, but they will usually get a milder case than people who aren't vaccinated. The vaccine is especially recommended for people who are more likely to get really sick from flu-related complications.
Information provided by Dr. Doug Layton, D.O., Family Physicians at Prairie Trail, 2515 S.W. State St., 964-6999.