Flu season: What you need to know to stay healthy

University of Michigan News

FACULTY Q&A

Each year, particularly during the winter months, millions of Americans are infected with influenza. The flu causes symptoms such as fever, coughing, body aches and fatigue, and, in some cases, can lead to serious complications and even death.
Arnold Monto, professor of epidemiology and global health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, has studied the spread of the flu virus and the effectiveness of vaccines and antiviral medications for more than five decades.
His research group is one of six teams across the country that partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor the effectiveness of the flu vaccine and help inform which strains are included in the vaccine each year.
Q: In addition to getting the flu vaccine, what else can people do to protect themselves and their families this flu season?
Monto: After getting the flu shot, washing your hands frequently is one of the best things you can do to avoid getting the flu. It’s also helpful to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
When possible, avoid contact with people who have the flu or any type of respiratory infection. If you do get the flu, help protect others: stay home from work, school or other activities to avoid spreading the virus.
Maintaining healthy habits, like getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet and drinking enough water, can also help you stay healthy this flu season.
Q: If you do get the flu this season, is there anything you can do to help reduce the symptoms?
Monto: Antiviral medications are generally underutilized but are very effective in treating flu symptoms. Tamiflu, or oseltamivir, which is available with a prescription from your doctor and is taken daily for five days, can shorten the duration of your illness and prevent complications. However, antivirals work best if …

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