The flu is the most common viral infection in the United States, and the vast majority of people infected will experience a cough, runny nose, or sore throat.
But it can also cause a variety of other symptoms including fever, headaches, tiredness, muscle aches, diarrhea, and fatigue.
That’s because it’s so common, it’s hard to avoid, and many people are already at higher risk of getting the flu.
Here are a few simple tips for staying healthy during the flu season.
But don’t take your flu shots alone.
If you or someone you know is in a position to get vaccinated, get tested before you leave the house, or go anywhere else to get the shot, experts say.
“If you’re at home, or you’re in a car or in a plane or anywhere, you’re probably more likely to get it than someone who’s not at home,” says Dr. Mark Belsky, a professor of medicine at Columbia University who has studied the flu virus.
Belsky is the chief medical officer for the Center for Health Security at the World Health Organization, and he’s also an infectious disease specialist at the Cleveland Clinic.
He recommends avoiding travel, and also encouraging others to get tested, before leaving home or going anywhere else where the flu is prevalent.
Bersky says it’s possible to get a flu shot even without symptoms, but you should avoid going to a doctor if you’re concerned you might be infected.
If your doctor tells you to go to a hospital, you may be better off taking the flu shot in a hotel, or staying at home or staying in a home away from your friends and family.
“If you get a vaccine and it’s been six months since you got it, you don’t want to get sick from the flu,” Belski says.
The CDC says the average flu vaccine effectiveness rate is 75 percent.
The CDC recommends that everyone get the vaccine if they have a risk factor for flu, including someone with a history of respiratory illness, someone who has been to an area with a high prevalence of flu, or someone who is currently pregnant or breastfeeding.
“It’s important to have all the information you need,” Betsky says.
If you think you might have been exposed to the flu, talk to your doctor or health care provider about getting tested.
And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the CDC.