The stomach flu is responsible for many hospital visits each year and in some cases, even results in death. The stomach flu is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and a low fever in most people. The gastrointestinal symptoms can quickly lead to dehydration, which is what sends most people to the hospital. When it comes to something as dangerous as the flu, doctors urge patients to prevent the illness before it occurs in whatever way they can. We’re here to help spread that message and inform you of how to avoid the stomach flu!

Getting Vaccinated

The most effective way to prevent the flu is by receiving the flu shot. The flu shot has to be administered each year to maintain effectiveness because the flu itself changes each year. The flu shot has little to no side effects and no significant health risks. Getting vaccinated is easier than ever before because the vaccine is now covered under all insurance plans. Stop by your local walk-in clinic, pharmacy, general practitioner’s office, or urgent care to receive the shot. The process is fast and straightforward, so there’s honestly no excuse not to do it! Anyone over the age of 6 months is eligible to receive the shot, but if your pregnant, nursing, or over the age of 65 you will need a specialized version of the vaccine. People used to avoid the shot because they were afraid of needles, but a nasal spray version of the vaccine is now available.  If you don’t have insurance and would like to receive the flu vaccine, reach out to your county or city health department to learn about free vaccine days each year.

Keep it Clean

Once you’ve been vaccinated, the next step towards preventing the flu is cleanliness to prevent the bacteria from thriving and being transferred to you. You should practice proper handwashing more often than usual during flu season and avoid touching your face with your hands. If you don’t have time for frequent handwashing, carry around a high strength hand sanitizer. Children in school are especially susceptible to stomach flu exposure. Have a conversation with them about the importance of handwashing throughout the school day, especially before meal times. Sometimes even the best prevention isn’t enough and an unlikely few contracts the stomach flu. If you’re one of those unlucky few, you should isolate yourself from friends, family, and peers until the illness passes.