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Tips for Keeping Your Family Healthy During Cold and Flu Season


How to stay healthy during cold and flu season

Cold and Flu season are upon us, and while the flu hasn’t quite hit Orange County yet, there is still the potential of it coming to our community, and protecting your family from serious illness is vital. Some people think that mild cold symptoms are the flu, but the flu is much more serious. We talked with Doctor Wendy Coling at Kaiser Permanente Orange County about how your family can prevent getting the flu and got these great tips for keeping your family healthy during the cold and flu season.

What is the best way to prevent getting the flu?

The best way to prevent getting the flu is getting the flu vaccine. I recommend it for everyone unless you have a specific type of medical condition. Some of the guidelines have changed over the past year regarding medical conditions that won’t allow you to get the vaccine, so it’s important to talk with your doctor if you are not sure.

Getting good night’s sleep is a major way to prevent getting sick. When you get less than seven hours of sleep, your immune system becomes more vulnerable to things like the flu and colds.

It’s also important to take care of yourself. Eat well. Stay fairly active as far as moderate exercise.

Try to avoid being around people who are sick.

If you do get sick or if anyone in your family gets sick, if it seems like the flu or a severe cold you’ll probably need to stay home, because you are contagious for about 5-7 days. If you can’t stay home, it’s important to stay masked so you can avoid spreading.

What do you recommend if you do get sick?

Stay well hydrated. Get increased rest. Take over the counter medication as needed.

How long after you’re exposed to the flu can you get sick?

It can be anywhere from 1-4 days.

How long are you contagious?

You can actually be contagious a day before you have the first symptom which is why it is important to do things like getting the flu vaccine to try and lessen your risk of ever getting the flu. Once you get the flu, you remain contagious for about 5-7 days.

Let’s talk about the flu vaccine!

It is the only measure you can take to prevent. You probably will get exposed to the flu. It’s almost a sure thing. It’s important to do things to prevent getting it, and the vaccine and good nights rest are the best ways to prevent getting it.

When is the best time to get the flu vaccine?

The fall is the best time to get it. It’s never really too late. Flu season will go all the way through March. If you haven’t gotten it yet, it’s still not too late. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick into your immune system. Since we don’t know when the flu is going to hit, it’s important to get it when it’s available.

What is the youngest age you can get the flu vaccine?

Six months +. Babies less than six months are vulnerable. It’s important for pregnant women, breastfeeding women or anyone who is around infants to get the vaccine to help protect that infant. Babies with moms who had the flu vaccine are 70% less likely to get the flu. Since their flu can be so much more serious, it is important to take every measure we can to protect infants.

Will you get sick from getting the flu vaccine?

There are not active ingredients in the vaccine. Some people will have a reaction, and most of the time it is just your immune system working and establishing that immunity towards the flu. You might feel a little sore or aching, and that is your body reacting and becoming effective against the vaccine. Having severe reactions is rare.

Colds are common during this time of year. If you get your flu vaccine at a doctor’s office, then you can likely be exposed to someone in the office with a cold. Some people may associate that cold they were exposed to vs. getting the flu from the vaccine.

The flu can cause severe complications like pneumonia, meningitis, and even death. The same amount of people that die each year from breast cancer die from the flu. It is a very serious illness and has the potential for serious complications. The doctors are Kaiser Permanente Orange County are passionate about keeping families healthy during the cold and flu season. Learn more about Kaiser Permanente Orange County online.

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