A bout with the flu is never any fun. We’ve all suffered through the aches, fever, chills, coughing, and exhaustion. It’s bad enough to spend days suffering at home on the couch, but complications can arise that can land even healthy folks in the hospital.

As of early February, flu activity remains high here in Missouri and Kansas, and it’s not expected to taper off until April or May. The Center for Disease Control estimates that there have been 26 million cases in the U.S. so far this season, with 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths.

We’re not trying to scare anyone into sealing up their home or going to the grocery store in a Haz-Mat suit. It’s still possible to get out and about and live an active life while still avoiding the flu. Here are a few tips that will help you stay healthy until spring.

1. Get vaccinated. Your absolute best defense against the flu is the flu shot. While the CDC recommends getting the shot as early as October, you can still get one now and have protection for the rest of the flu season. While the vaccine doesn’t always prevent the flu, it does reduce the flu’s severity and the chance that you’ll experience life-threatening complications. If you’re over 65, you may be able to get a high-dose flu vaccine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about which vaccine you need.

2. Wash your hands. The second-best way to prevent the flu is through frequent hand washing. Use soap and rub your hands together under warm water for at least 20 seconds. A good trick is to sing the song “Happy Birthday” two times while you wash. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer, although not as effective as soap and water, can help you out if you’re not near a sink. Use one that contains at least 60 percent alcohol and rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds or until the sanitizer is dry.

3. Be mindful of your own health. Exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress can keep your immune system in top shape, which can help you fight off the flu or other illnesses.

4. Be mindful of crowds. The flu virus spreads so easily from person to person because it travels in droplets created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or even breathes. These flu droplets can travel at least six feet. You can also pick up the flu by touching a surface that has the virus on it, such as handrails, elevator buttons, or shopping cart handles. When you’re in public, walk away from anyone showing symptoms, sanitize or wash your hands after touching a common surface, and avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes.

You don’t need to hide out at home just because it’s flu season. A little awareness, along with some soap and water, can go a long way in preventing illness. Stay well, everyone! Winter is almost over!

Stay healthy and live an active life at the senior living community at Lazy Acres in Belton. Give us a call during regular business hours at (816) 331-4886 or fill out our online contact form anytime!