Besides a Shot: Other Ways to Fight the Flu
Even with modern vaccination efforts, the flu infects many people each year. And while most of us just suffer through it and feel better in a week or so, the flu also causes deaths and sends many people to the hospital. While vaccination remains the best method of control, there are other methods of treatment and prevention. Certainly, you can make efforts to keep your immune system strong and reduce your risk of exposure to viruses. Furthermore, certain antiviral drugs can help you shorten the duration and severity of the flu if and when it does strike. These medications are sometimes prescribed to prevent new infections as well.
Additional DefensesAside from a flu shot, what else can you do to protect yourself from the flu?There are general measures you can take to reduce your risk of getting or spreading the flu:
- Wash your hands often, especially when you come in contact with someone who is sick. Wash your hands for 15-20 seconds with soap and water. Rubbing alcohol-based cleaners on your hands is also helpful.
- Avoid close contact with people who have respiratory infections.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw away the tissue after you use it. Coughing or sneezing into your elbow or upper sleeve is also helpful.
- Do not spit.
- Do not share drinks or personal items.
- Do not bite your nails or put your hands near your eyes, mouth, or nose.
- Keep surfaces clean by wiping them with a household disinfectant.
- Oseltamivir—an oral medication for the prevention and treatment of influenza A and B (Some kinds of seasonal influenza virus are resistant to this drug.)
- Zanamavir—an inhaled drug for the treatment of influenza A and B (This may worsen asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD].)
- Amantadine—an oral medication for the prevention and treatment of influenza A (Some kinds of seasonal influenza virus are resistant to this drug.)
- Rimantadine—an oral medication similar to amantadine but with fewer side effects, also for the prevention and treatment of influenza A (Some kinds of seasonal influenza virus are resistant to this drug.)