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What are the Best Tips for Influenza Preparedness?

While getting the influenza vaccine is helpful in avoiding this illness, there are other ways to prepare for flu season as well. One of the best ways to avoid the spread of influenza is to wash the hands regularly, particularly before eating and after sneezing, coughing, or blowing the nose. Knowing the typical symptoms of the flu is another method of influenza preparedness, as this knowledge can help patients determine whether they actually have the flu, or if it is the common cold. Though medicine cannot typically cure this condition, it is helpful to have medication on-hand to treat the symptoms of influenza, such as a fever, cough, and general discomfort.

Just because one person in the household has the flu does not mean that others nearby are destined to get it. One of the easiest methods of influenza preparedness is washing the hands frequently, as well as carrying hand sanitizer when water and soap are not available. Those infected with this illness can avoid spreading it by washing their hands after blowing their nose, sneezing, or coughing. Those who are not yet infected can practice influenza preparedness, and lessen their chances of getting the flu by washing their hands after touching doorknobs and before eating.

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Many symptoms of influenza are similar to the common cold, which is why proper influenza preparedness should include knowledge of the differences between the two illnesses. In general, cold symptoms are milder than flu symptoms, and tend to last for a shorter period of time. While a cold usually includes nasal congestion, runny nose, a sore throat, and a cough, the flu often features the same symptoms, in addition to chills, body aches, nausea, and a fever. Additionally, the symptoms of the flu are usually more sudden than those of a cold, and are usually accompanied by extreme fatigue. A doctor should typically be consulted to determine for sure whether a patient is suffering from the flu or the common cold.

Though time is often the only cure for the flu, some of the symptoms can be treated while patients rest and recover. For example, a fever can often be reduced at home by taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen, both of which have the added benefit of relieving the discomfort of body aches. Drinking plenty of fluids can also help, which is why easy access to water and juice is another method of influenza preparedness. Of course, absorbent, soft tissues and petroleum jelly are also often beneficial for keeping the nose dry and moisturized during influenza recovery.

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