Q: What can you do to help prevent the stomach flu and influenza?
A: "The No. 1 rule is to wash your hands," says Moore. "It might sound basic but washing your hands with soap and warm water for 15-20 seconds several times a day is going to help protect you." It's also important to avoid touching your face often to keep any germs on your hands away from your mouth and nose," says Williams. Moore also suggests getting the influenza shot before the virus spreads into your community. "When you receive the flu shot, you're protecting everyone around you, not just yourself," says Moore. Even if you come in contact with a strain of the flu that isn't completely prevented by the shot, it can still help lessen the severity of the symptoms.
"The flu shot can take two weeks to become effective, so get it sooner rather than later," he cautions. Unfortunately, there is not a vaccine for norovirus."
Q: If diagnosed with the flu or stomach flu, what should you do?
A: First and foremost, if you or a loved one experience influenza-like symptoms, be sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible to be tested. "An anti-viral medication should be given in the first two days of the onset of influenza symptoms. Seeing your doctor at the first sign of symptoms to be tested and treated can help lessen the severity and duration of the illness," Moore advises.
Since the flu is not a bacterial disease, it cannot be fought with an antibiotic. "Taking an antibiotic when you don't need one can cause antibiotic resistance which may create superbugs, and can negatively alter the state of your microbiome," he adds. If you are diagnosed with either the influenza or stomach flu, you should go home and rest, and not return to school or work until 24 hours after your fever breaks or diarrhea and/or vomiting have stopped. "You're most contagious at the very beginning stages of influenza, but you can still pass the virus for five to seven additional days after symptoms start," says Moore.