Five things to do now before the flu hits

The last thing any of us wants is to get sick. But this year the flu is expected to peak earlier and be stronger than usual. And it could happen in the next few weeks. We're looking at the top five things you may want to do now, before it hits.

From a busy holiday season to now, a busy flu season. The Centers for Disease Control says there have been more than six times the number of flu cases than there were this time last year. And there's a 60 percent chance the flu will hit its peak in January this year, weeks before normal.

"We've been in very crowded areas and shopping malls and grocery stores where you're around a lot of people and then we've been around a lot of family members," says Dr. Scott Bentz, head of the emergency department at Presbyterian / St. Luke's Medical Center.

"And so in close quarters like that that's how a virus likes to spread. So I do expect an uptick in flu cases in the post holiday period."

Dr. Bentz says it's best to get a flu shot.

"The more people we have vaccinated the more coverage the general population is going to have and the fewer people are going to get sick," Dr. Bentz says.

But if you still come down with the virus, be prepared. He shared five things you might want to stock up on now, to make getting through it a little bit easier.

The first two things on the list are ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

"Influenza causes a lot of really severe body aches," Dr. Bentz says. "And the acetaminophen and ibuprofen can really help you with those body aches. It also causes headaches, sore throat, your chest can be hurting because you’re coughing so much and taking pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen will be helpful."

You might think you need cough drops but what you really need is a good cough syrup. And you have to make sure it has the right things in it. So look for one that has dextromethorphan in it because that's going to suppress your cough. And check for the ingredient guaiphenesin. It's an expectorant and that's going to get the mucus up and out of your body.

And it's not all about you. Another thing you want to make sure you have is a mask because you don't want to spread the flu to people around you.

And last but not least make sure you are stocked up on plenty of water because when you have the flu it's so important that you stay hydrated.

These 5 things may seem really small but they can make a big difference for you if you have to fight the flu this season.

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