Influenza (Seasonal Flu) - Prevention
For help deciding if the flu vaccine is
right for you, see:
- Flu Vaccines: Should I Get a Flu Vaccine?
Other ways to reduce your risk of getting the flu or developing complications
Increase your chance of staying healthy by:
- Washing your hands often, especially
during winter months when the flu is most common.
- Keeping your
hands away from your nose, eyes, and mouth. Viruses are most likely to enter
your body through these areas.
- Eating a healthy and
- Getting regular
- Not smoking. Smoking irritates the lining of your nose,
sinuses, and lungs, which may make you susceptible to complications of the
- Taking probiotics. One study has shown that taking probiotics helps prevent influenza symptoms and reduce antibiotic use in children.5
antiviral medicines (zanamivir and oseltamivir) can help prevent the flu caused by
influenza A and B viruses. These medicines may also reduce the length of the
illness if they are given no more than 48 hours after the first symptoms.
During a flu outbreak, these medicines may be given at the same time as a flu
vaccine and for 2 weeks after while your body produces
antibodies to protect you from the virus. These
medicines are taken by mouth (pill) or inhaled into the lungs (inhaler).
The antiviral medicines
amantadine and rimantadine have been used to prevent flu caused by influenza A.
But for the past few years the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) has advised doctors not to use these medicines to treat or prevent the
flu.6 These medicines have not worked against most
types of the flu virus. Amantadine and rimantadine do not protect against
influenza B. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the medicine that
is best for you.
For more information, see:
- Flu: Should I Take Antiviral Medicine?