Easy steps to cut your chances of catching flu & its cousins

January 7, 2013 5:44:28 PM PST
It may be a new year, but it's the same old symptoms in 41 states, where influenza continues to spread - coughing and sneezing.

It's just one of many other winter viruses which are hitting big from coast to coast.

And local doctors and nurse practitioners are also reporting many other viruses going around.

It may seem like you can't escape getting sick, but there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and your family.

One of the best ways to prevent the flu is of course, the flu shot and it's not too late to get one.

Dr. Josh Rabinowitz with Advocare Main Line Pediatrics encourages everyone who can, to get vaccinated. It doesn't just protect you, but others, too.

You can also limit the spread of all germs by wiping down common surfaces. Some viruses can linger on keyboards or phones for hours.

To stay healthy it's best to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently throughout the day.

And because children are known to spread germs easily, make sure they are also washing their hands.

"Have handsoap, sink, paper towels easily available," says Dr. Rabinowitz.

He also recommends if one child is sick, try to keep him or her away from other kids.

The flu is contagious one day before symptoms start and up to 4 or 5 days after the illness.

Another good tip to keep your family healthy is to live healthy: 1.) Eat healthy foods; 2.) Drink plenty of fluids; 3.) Get enough rest and 4.) Get enough activity.

"Get outside into the cold, don't be afraid of the cold, it's not the weather that gives us the illnesses, it's the viruses," advises Dr. Rabinowitz.

Experts say the flu strains going around right now are bad ones, mostly the A-type strains, which can make you feel pretty miserable.

Because this year's outbreak started so early, and because a second strain is making its way through some states, we could see several waves of activity.