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Fight Off the FLU Family Features

Colder weather and cold and flu season go hand-in-hand. While you may not be able to completely avoid getting sick, you can take some steps to protect yourself and minimize the chances of a serious illness. The flu is a highly contagious illness that can result in hospitalization and even death. Managing your own risk of exposure to the flu not only protects you, but can help minimize the chances of passing on a potentially dangerous illness to those in higher risk groups. Those with compromised immune systems and risk factors such as age (both the elderly and young babies and children) and other 12 | Tri-Cities Health & Wellness - Winter 2017

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health conditions are at an elevated risk. Know the signs. It can be easy to confuse whether you’re fighting off symptoms of a common cold or a more serious bug like the flu. A common misconception is that the flu is defined by fever, vomiting and diarrhea. While these symptoms may be present with a case of the flu, the flu is primarily a respiratory illness. A variety of tests can help verify whether you have the flu, with varying degrees of reliability. Unless a definite determination is required and may affect your treatment (for example, if you are pregnant and need to avoid certain medications), chances are your doctor will not administer a test and will instead treat your symptoms. Get vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine. Getting the vaccine early in the season is advisable because it can take as long as two weeks to be effective. Although the vaccination may not completely eliminate your chances of contracting the flu, it can minimize the severity of symptoms and reduce the likelihood of hospitalization due to the flu. Although the vaccine is available in both shot and nasal spray