You’re getting on a plane

“Planes are a great respiratory virus mixing bowl,” said Michael Osterholm. “You enhance your risk there.”

Subtract 5 points

 

You smoke

Smoking is an absolute risk factor for all respiratory illnesses because of the damage that occurs to the lungs.

Subtract 10 points

 

Your kids have the flu

Kids are major carriers. Younger ones can be contagious for more than a week after they’ve been infected.

Subtract 10 points

 

Your spouse has the flu

Once you’re in a household where somebody has the flu, you may not get sick, but you’re at a high risk.

Subtract 7 points

 

You sleep eight hours a night

Osterholm said he knew of no data to support the idea that adequate sleep helps prevent influenza.

Add 1 point

 

You leave the house with wet hair

“If it’s 20 below and you leave your house with wet hair, good luck. But it has nothing to do with infectious diseases.”

Subtract 1 point

 

You don’t work with the public

Not being exposed to large numbers of people, some of whom may be sick, “surely reduces your risk.”

Add 5 points

 

You live in a cold climate

Once flu starts to take off in an area, it doesn’t matter where you are. Still, flu likes cold and dry weather.

Subtract 3 points

 

You work at a school/day care

In young children who haven’t had the flu, the virus is more likely to be transmitted to them and through them.

Subtract 8 points

 

You are a workout warrior

Regular exercise is good for overall health, but it’s “not a flu fighter,” Osterholm said.

Add 2 points

 

You take vitamin C

It has not been clearly demonstrated to prevent onset of the flu.

Add 1 point

 

You touch the door handle in a public restroom

The flu virus dies quickly in the environment, so risk of contracting it by touching surfaces is low.

Subtract 2 points

 

You live in a dormitory

Dorm residents consist of a younger population that has a higher risk for flu.

Subtract 5 points

 

You eat chicken noodle soup

“It may make you feel better,” said Osterholm, “but it doesn’t do anything to prevent or reduce your illness.”

Add 1 point

You use hand sanitizer

“I’m very high on hand washing,” Osterholm said, but it’s been “oversold” as a flu prevention tool.

Add 4 points

 

You got a flu shot

Age and other variables can affect how effective the shot is. Still, Osterholm and other public health leaders agree that the flu vaccine is the best prevention tool available.

Age 18 and under, add 8 points; age 19-64, add 5 points; over 64, add 3 points

 

 

Your results:

-4 or lower

Bummer. Your chances of getting the flu are high.

 

Between -3 and 3

Not bad, but you’d better take caution. You may be at risk for the flu.

 

4 or higher

Relax. Your chance of flu is fairly low.

 

Wild card

Remember, even if you’re doing all the right things to dodge the flu, you still might catch this cunning virus.