Flu season is here. It comes every year and it can be a challenge for professionals to predict how widespread the flu will be each year, or how well the vaccine will work for those who receive it. However, one thing never changes. There are ways that you can prevent the flu from spreading.
- Get a flu shot. The CDC recommends that all people over the age of 6 months receive a flu shot. This is particularly important for those affected by cancer since they are at increased risk of complications from the flu.
- Wash your hands! Ensure that you and those around you are practicing proper hand hygiene using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You should clean your hands after blowing your nose or coughing into your hand, after being exposed to someone who is not well, when you get home from a trip to the store, or after any situation in which you have been exposed to germs. Healthcare providers should clean their hands prior to and after any contact with a patient.
- Grab a tissue. If you feel a sneeze or cough coming grab a tissue and cover your nose and mouth. Throw the tissue away. On a similar note, do not touch your face, nose or mouth without first washing your hands, and repeat washing after.
- Try to avoid going out during busy shopping times at the grocery store and mall. You can avoid being exposed to unnecessary germs by getting what you need delivered to your home or going out when stores are not busy.
- Stay away from anyone who is sick. Ask visitors to skip their visit if they have been sick or have been around someone else who is sick. You can always talk over the phone, Facetime, or text until your visitor is healthy.
Cancer patients can at times be more susceptible to getting sick which can make flu season a stressful part of the year. By following these tips you can hopefully avoid getting the flu and stay as healthy as possible.
If you think you have the flu it is important to call your provider. Symptoms can include: fever, runny nose, congestion, aches, chills, headache, fatigue, cough, diarrhea and vomiting. You can have any combination of these symptoms. Call your provider with any symptoms so that you can be tested for the flu and treated appropriately. More information is provided by the CDC about cancer and the flu.