Five Ways to Fight the Flu

We could be facing the worst flu season in a decade. We'll help you get armed for battle.
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Five Ways to Fight the Flu

We could be facing the worst flu season in a decade. We’ll help you get armed for battle.

-Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen,

Woman with the flu

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report warning that flu season has come early—and it’s coming on strong. While in most years, incidence of flu picks up in January and peaks in February, the latest numbers from the last few weeks of November show that flu season has officially arrived. Get your tissues and hand sanitizers ready, troops, it’s going to be a long winter.

Lab tests in 48 states have confirmed cases of influenza, and flulike illness in some areas has already topped last season’s totals. Google has a cool tool called Flu Trends where you can see where in the world people are searching most for flu-related information, an indication of who’s getting hit hardest. The U.S. is already at “High,” especially in the Southeast region. Not counting the infamous swine flu outbreak, we’re looking at what could be the worst flu season in nearly a decade.

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The flu is no fun (as if you needed us to tell you that!). Symptoms range from sniffles and chills to a high fever that keeps you home from work all week, or worse—flu lands 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills more than 30 thousand in this country alone. There are antiviral drugs that can make you feel a little better and shorten the illness’s duration. But of course your best bet is to not get the flu in the first place! Fortunately there are several simple and smart ways to defend yourself this flu season. And none of them requires full body armor or hiding in a bunker until April.

1. Get a flu shot.

This one seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t get their flu shots. Only 37 percent of Americans got them last year, and it’s looking the same this year. There’s no guarantee that it will prevent your getting sick; the flu shot has been 60 to 70 percent effective in recent years. But it’s definitely worth a shot! Go to your doctor, a local clinic or one of many drug store chains that offer walk-in vaccination. It takes all of five minutes, kicks in after two weeks and will keep you flu-free through spring.

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