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Simple Tips Keep the Flu at Bay

Or at least help stop it from spreading, expert says

SATURDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Between 5 percent and 20 percent of Americans will get hit by the flu bug this year, but some simple precautions can keep you from becoming one of that number, an expert said.

The flu shot is the most effective method of preventing the flu, said Dr. Robert C. Goldszer, associate chief medical officer at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. It's important to get your shot early in the flu season -- October and November -- and to get a shot every year, Goldszer said. Everyone is eligible for a flu shot, and many places offer it for little or no cost.

If you do start to feel symptoms of the flu (tired, nauseous, congested, achy), get extra rest and drink plenty of fluids -- at least a quart of water every day. Proper hydration and nutrition can help lessen flu symptoms.

If you have the flu, try not to spread it to people around you. Flu viruses are spread by coughing and sneezing. Most people can spread the flu beginning one day before symptoms develop to up to five days after they become ill.

If you do have symptoms, stay home from work or school and avoid public places. Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Take steps to protect yourself from getting the flu. If you use public transit or work in a crowded place, disinfect your hands regularly and avoid close contact with people who appear to have flu symptoms.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about seasonal influenza.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Brigham and Women's Hospital, news release, November 2007

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