If you answered now, you are correct. October begins the cold and flu season as the weather outside starts to get cold. It can last until March or even sometimes as late as May. Each year, it is important to be prepared and protect you and your family from getting the flu. It is especially important for adults 65 years of age and older, people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities and those who are at high risk for flu-related complications.

The cold and the flu are similar, yet they are two different conditions. They are both caused by viruses that are contagious. The cold is often mild, starts slow, and can last longer. The flu (influenza) is often much more severe and appears very suddenly but does not last long.

There are several things you can do to protect against getting sick. You may still get a cold and the flu, but these tips can help prevent or lessen your symptoms.

Wash your hands often. This can help stop germs from spreading.

Eat healthy, be active, and get enough sleep. These help to boost your immune system and keep your body strong.

Cough and sneeze into your elbow. Think about all the germs you spread if you use your hands.

Use antibacterial products to clean surfaces. These products help to disinfect germs and should be used throughout your home. Common areas are tables and countertops. Do not forget to clean door handles, light switches, and your child’s toys.

Stay home when you are sick. You can be contagious before you have symptoms and after you start to feel better. Avoid places where you may spread the virus.

Stay away from people at risk. Try to avoid young children and babies, pregnant women, people age 65 or older, and anyone with a chronic condition, such as asthma. People in these groups are at higher risk for flu-related complications.

The best way to protect against the flu is to get the seasonal influenza vaccine. People 6 months of age or older should get the flu vaccine. This is by recommendation of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The flu vaccine is especially important for people who are at high risk for flu-related complications. You can get your flu vaccine by calling Alpha Family Medicine at 678-619-1974 to schedule an appointment.

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