The flu season is an annual occurrence that varies by geographical region and is defined by regular flu outbreaks. In the northern hemisphere it occurs in the late fall through the winter months, and in the southern hemisphere it occurs during the same seasons, though these occur during the opposite months. In the US the worse months are typically January and February, though it can start much earlier and continue through late spring.
There are multiple reasons that the flu is more common during the cold, dry months of winter: 1) during colder winter months people are more likely to spend time indoors and around others where contagious diseases are more easily spread; 2) mucous membranes are more likely to break down due to dry air or other illnesses, which creates easier portals of entry for the flu virus in our nasal and and airway passages; 3) other infections are also more common which weaken the body’s immune system increase the likelihood influenza infection.
There are several precautions that one can take to prevent contracting the flu. First and most importantly wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom or after returning from public spaces. The next best strategy for those that meet a few criteria is to receive the flu vaccine, which is very effective at preventing the flu. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website (www.cdc.gov/flu) has recommendations on who should receive the annual vaccine. Finally, avoid close contact with those that are ill. Unfortunately, while this last strategy can be helpful, people can spread the virus a full day before showing signs or symptoms and remain infective 5-7 days after becoming ill. You should talk with your primary care physician
about more ways to prevent the flu and to find out if the vaccine would be right for you. Good luck!