Skip to content

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Select An Article

How to Prevent the Flu

Font Size

If you don’t make an effort to prevent it, odds are that you’ll catch the flu this season.

For most of us it means a couple of weeks out of work or school, then life goes back to normal. But the flu can be serious, even deadly, if you have a health condition like asthma, heart disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.

Recommended Related to Cold & Flu

Exercising When Sick: A Good Move?

You have been so great about your new exercise routine, rarely missing a day since you started up again. Then all of a sudden you are waylaid by a cold or flu. What should you do? Should you skip the treadmill or forsake that Pilates class for a late afternoon nap? Will it be hard to get started again if you skip a day or two?

Read the Exercising When Sick: A Good Move? article > >

The trick is not to get sick in the first place. Here are proven ways to avoid the flu.

Get Vaccinated

Experts say the single best way to avoid the flu is to get the flu shot as soon as you can. The ideal time is early fall. But any time during the winter is fine if you haven't already done it.

The vaccine is designed to protect against the flu strains health experts believe will be most widespread each season -- for example, the H1N1 "swine flu." Some vaccines work against three flu strains -- you might hear them called trivalent. Others guard against four strains -- doctors will call them quadrivalent.

Know the Vaccine Types

The flu "shot" contains a dead virus. One kind that’s approved for people 6 months and older goes straight into the muscle. Another uses a smaller needle that only goes into the top layer of your skin. It's available for people aged 18 to 64.

The nasal spray, FluMist, contains a live but weakened form of the virus. It's approved for anyone between 2 and 49 who’s healthy and not pregnant.

Egg-free vaccines are for people between 18 and 49 who have severe egg allergies.

Fluzone is a high-dose version for those 65 and older. It’s better at protecting an older person's immune system.

Don't make excuses for skipping your flu shot. Your arm might be a little sore the next day. And you may feel a little achy or run a low fever afterward. But you can't catch the flu from the vaccine. It contains a weakened or killed form of the virus.

Build a Germ Barrier

It’s easy to catch the flu. When a nearby sick person sneezes or coughs, they send out a spray of virus-laden droplets straight to your open mouth or nose.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat