Staying Healthy in the Face of Flu Season

Keeping yourself, your family and co-workers healthy may be easier than you think, as long as you adhere to a few simple steps, according to Californians for Patient Care. The nonprofit patient advocacy organization is highlighting preventive care and safety in advance of the upcoming flu season.

"Californians for Patient Care believes that people play an important role in establishing and maintaining their own health," says said Carmella Gutierrez, president of Californians for Patient Care. "Comparatively speaking, it takes a little time and effort to adopt these simple, healthy behaviors and the impact to individuals, families, workplaces and communities is tremendous"

She adds, "While flu season happens once every year, reducing and eliminating the spread of infectious diseases is a year-round concern. It may surprise many of us to learn that the simplest things many of them the same steps we do during flu season when our awareness is heightened can help keep us, our families and our co-workers healthy and free from infectious disease all year round."

Californians for Patient Care recommends adopting the following behaviors:

- Wash your hands frequently: Dont limit your frequent handwashing to flu season wash them several times a day year-round. Influenza and whooping cough are year-round dangers. Also, patients should not be afraid to ask healthcare professionals to wash their hands during an office visit or consultation.

- Get recommended vaccinations: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides recommendations on vaccinations for both children and adults (

Californians concerned about the affordability of recommended vaccinations or other healthcare services have access to the states largest database of low- and no-cost healthcare facilities at

- Following the vaccination schedules recommended by the CDC can protect adults and children from contracting more than a dozen infectious diseases. Many of the deaths that resulted from Californias whooping cough outbreak in 2010 were infants younger than three months who were too young to receive the pertussis/whooping cough vaccine. This emphasizes the need to vaccinate all people who come in contact with those whose systems are the most susceptible to infection.

 - The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day, but especially before, during and after handling food; after using the bathroom or changing a diaper; before and after caring for anyone who is sick; and after touching animals or garbage. Using hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol is an effective addition to keeping hands clean but not a replacement for washing hands with soap and water.

When trying to assess the need for adopting these behaviors, people may want to consider the following:

- Take medications as prescribed: It is important to take all medications as prescribed by healthcare professionals. Doing so gives your system enough time to battle the illness youre suffering from, but failing to do so may weaken your system to further infection.

- If youre sick, stay home: School children and employees are used to hearing this suggestion, but its also applicable to anyone visiting someone in the hospital. Most patients admitted to the hospital have weakened immune systems (due to their illness), so the last thing they need is a well-meaning, but sick friend or relative coming to visit, and potentially prolonging their stay.