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LVHN Health Tips: Tips to stay healthy this flu season

Flu season has been largely overshadowed over the last few years by other respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19. However, many medical experts believe this flu season could be more severe.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expects flu activity in the United States to increase in the coming weeks,” says Terry Burger, Lehigh Valley Health Network’s (LVHN) Administrator of Infection Control and Prevention. “Flu in the Northern Hemisphere is often caused by viruses similar to those that spread in the Southern Hemisphere during their winter flu season.”

Get your flu shot

As we move into a time of year when flu becomes more widespread, make time to get your flu shot. “Flu shots save lives,” Burger says. “You will not only protect yourself but will help reduce the risk of spreading the flu to the people you love.

The flu can be especially dangerous to the elderly or those with underlying health conditions, such as cancer.”

Be careful what you touch

When it comes to avoiding the flu, Francis Braconaro, MD, internal medicine physician with LVPG Internal Medicine–Carbon, says keeping your hands clean is key.

“Washing your hands frequently and correctly can help remove viruses and other microbes from your skin,” Dr. Braconaro says.

Surfaces are also a potential germ hazard. “Remember to avoid touching your face after touching surfaces that others have touched,” Dr. Braconaro says.

Those commonly touched areas include doorknobs, cabinet handles, telephones, faucet handles, microwave and fridge handles, remote controls, shopping cart push handles, etc.

Also, clean surfaces to help remove viruses.

The CDC says common cleaners, including soap, chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide, can kill the flu virus on surfaces.

Stop the spread

If you do get the flu, Burger says there are ways to avoid spreading the virus to others:

• Stay home.

• Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the crook of your elbow.

• Toss used tissues into the trash.

Signs and symptoms of the flu

It’s also important to recognize the symptoms of the flu so you can differentiate it from other common winter illnesses.

Flu symptoms come on suddenly and include fever, body aches, chills, tiredness, cough and headache.

Some people may also experience sneezing, stuffy nose and sore throat.

According to the CDC, cold symptoms are milder than flu symptoms. If you go to the doctor and are diagnosed with influenza, you may be treated with antiviral medication.

If your symptoms seem severe, you may need care at the ER, says Burger.

“Go to the hospital if you have shortness of breath, prolonged illness that doesn’t seem to be getting better or chest pain,” she says.

Getting your flu shot has never been easier

Did you know that you can go to LVHN ExpressCARE–Palmerton for your flu shot?

Located at 528 Delaware Avenue, Palmerton, they are open 365 days a year and no appointment is necessary.

Flu season is upon us but there are ways to protect yourself. METROGRAPHICS