5 tips for avoiding the flu

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the flu continues to be a major concern nationally, I spoke to Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease specialist at University of Chicago Medicine, for tips on how to stay healthy this flu season.

Understanding how the flu spreads helps with prevention.

It all starts with "droplets," explained Dr. Landon. When someone coughs or sneezes, these droplets spread about six feet. If you're in that range, you could breathe them in. Alternatively, if you touch something the droplets landed on, and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose, the flu could enter your system.

So how can you avoid the flu?

1. "Lean back when someone's coughing or sneezing," instructed Landon. The extra space between you and that person can make a difference.

2. "You have no idea how often you're touching your face," pointed out Landon. So stop doing that and wash your hands to avoid transferring the flu to yourself from your phone, from a hand rail, or other places.

3. Get the flu shot. Even though it hasn't been as effective this year, it can still be beneficial and active in about a week, said Landon. "People who get the flu shot are less likely to die of the flu, to develop pneumonia, to end up in the hospital or to have serious complications of the flu," she added.

4. If your immune system is weak, wear a surgical mask when near those who appear ill, recommended Landon. You can also use a scarf to cover your mouth, maybe on your commute. But don't reuse that scarf without cleaning it.

5. If you think you've been exposed to the flu and are at a higher risk of complications, see a medical professional, stressed Landon.
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