The winter months bring shorter days and cooler temperatures. Most people associate this season with celebrations and holidays, but it is important to remember that it is also influenza (flu) season.
Seasonal flu is a contagious illness caused by a variety of flu viruses, which spread in a number of ways. You can catch the flu if you are in close contact with someone who is already sick, or if an infected individual coughs or sneezes on or near you. Additionally, touching contaminated surfaces can also expose you to flu viruses.
Most flu viruses affect the respiratory system and cause symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, cough, sore throat, fatigue, runny nose, and body aches.
While it usually only lasts for a few days, the flu can lead to other complications such as bacterial pneumonia, sinus infections, dehydration and worsening of chronic illnesses.
If you are living with cancer, getting the flu can put you at risk for additional complications. If you suspect you might have the flu, call your doctor right away and follow their advice closely.
Here are some precautions you can take this flu season:
- Talk to your doctor about vaccinations or antiviral medications that could lower your chance of complications
- If you start experiencing flu like symptoms at work, go home as soon as possible
- Wash your hands frequently with warm water and soap, or use an alcohol based hand sanitizer
- Make sure your home and workplace have disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer
- Disinfect frequently used surfaces at work and at home
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose and face
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough
- Avoid contact with sick people
- Avoid crowded spaces and large gatherings
- Try to get enough sleep
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables
- Drink plenty of fluids
For more information on healthy living, visit our Living With Cancer page.