HOUSTON - From packed doctor's offices to public health emergencies in some cities, this has become one of the worst flu seasons in years.
One of the first steps in prevention is to get a flu shot. It takes between 10 days and two weeks to become most effective. So, if you haven't done it already, Dr. Kay Leaming Van-Zandt from Texas Children's Hospital said do it now.
Anyone over six months of age should get vaccinated. It's especially important for children, people over 65, pregnant women and anyone with chronic issues like asthma, diabetes or heart disease.
"Lots of places in Houston and surrounding areas are offering flu shots and flu mist," according to Leaming Van-Zandt.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wash with soap and water often or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
The symptoms of flu are different from the common cold and include fever, muscle aches and pains and sore throat. But it's important to note, not everyone with the flu will have a fever.
If you do get sick, your doctor can prescribe antiviral drugs like Tamiflu or Relenza. Those drugs work better if they're started within two days of your illness. They'll prevent more serious complications and shorten the time you're sick.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said anyone with the flu should stay home until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone.
Jenn Jacome's mother and sister are sick with the flu, and staying home is exactly what they're doing.
"My brother gets married on Saturday, so they all stayed home from work and are trying to get better so can be ready to celebrate him and my future sister-in-law on Saturday," said Jacome.
If you develop more serious flu symptoms, like difficulty breathing, chest pain and severe vomiting, go to the emergency room. Otherwise doctors said it's best to just stay home and away from others.
Copyright 2013 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.