Influenza, also known as “flu,” and the holidays don’t mix, so moms need to be extra vigilant in doing everything possible to keep their families healthy, starting now.

Symptoms of the Flu

You’re feeling tired, your throat is sore and you have a fever. How do you know if you have the flu?

Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches, chills and fatigue.

Seasonal influenza is caused by flu viruses that infect the respiratory tract. But unlike other viral infections, like the common cold, the flu can cause more severe sickness and life-threatening complications in some people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How the Flu Spreads

Flu spreads through droplets when people with the flu cough, sneeze or talk, and the droplets land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The CDC reports that people with flu can spread it to other people up to six feet away.

A person can also get the flu by touching a surface that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth, eyes or nose.

6 Tips to Prevent the Flu

During this busy time of year, moms can help keep their families healthy by teaching good health habits that prevent the spread of germs.

Here are six tips that experts recommend for preventing the flu.

  1. Avoid close contact. If you are sick, keep your distance from other people. Likewise, avoid close contact with sick people.
  2. Stay home if you are sick. If you can, stay home from work or school and save errands for a day when you are healthy so you don’t spread germs.
  3. Cover your mouth and nose. Moms can remind children to cover their mouth or nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Or, cough and sneeze into your arm.
  4. Clean your hands. Washing hands often helps remove germs from your hands. If soap and water aren’t an option, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. That’s because germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her own nose, eyes or mouth.
  6. Practice other good health habits. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is sick. Get lots of rest, stay active, drink fluids and eat right – all of which can help you stay healthy all year long.

One way to clean and disinfect is to wash surfaces with warm, soapy water. Then follow up with a bleach solution to sanitize. Use either one tablespoon of regular-strength bleach in one gallon of water, or two teaspoons of high-strength bleach in one gallon of water.

How to Treat the Flu

CDC experts also suggest prompt treatment for people at high risk of complications, such as children younger than five, adults 65 and older, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, heart or lung disease and kidney disease.

Influenza antiviral drugs like Tamiflu or Relenza can reduce severe complications, according to the CDC. Treatment in these cases needs to begin as soon as symptoms start, without waiting for lab test confirmations, because the drugs work best when started in the first 48 hours, according to the CDC.

The holidays are about spending time with family and friends. That’s why it’s more important than ever to fight germs and stay healthy.