There are three main ways of preventing flu: good hygiene, such as hand washing and cleaning, flu vaccination and antiviral medicines.
With cold and flu season in full swing, we wondered how top docs personally battle nasty bugs each winter. It’s a common misconception that the only way to avoid getting the flu is to make sure you don’t come into contact with the virus, or if you do to wash it off your hands quickly before you touch your eyes or your mouth and allow the virus to invade your system.
The most effective way for preventing the flu is to get the flu shot. It works better than anything else. But there are other strategies you can employ as well.
Go to bed
As if getting enough sleep on a normal basis isn’t hard enough, you need more when you’re feeling under the weather. When you’re tired, your body isn’t fighting as hard, getting 8 to 10 hours a night.
Take symptoms seriously
Most people can weather the flu just fine. But there are exceptions. For example, pregnant women are 4 times more likely than the general population to be hospitalized for the flu. People with underlying chronic conditions—especially diabetes, asthma, or heart, liver, or kidney disease—are also more likely to face flu complications.
Practice good hygiene
The principal means for transferring a virus is through contact with an infected person. As such, it is important to wash hands frequently and to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing, using a tissue or handkerchief to cover your nose and mouth.
Build up with healthy food
You may think its hard to eat healthy on a regular basis, but eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables supports your immune system. And that’s a lot easier than fighting off the flu.
Get your shot
Last years flu-shot shortages are, well, last years shortages. Finding flu shots should be easier this year, but you should get one early.
Don’t touch your face
Even if you wash your hands regularly, it’s wise to keep your hands away from your face. If you can avoid rubbing your eyes and nose and putting your fingers into your mouth you’re less likely to become infected, as it will be harder for the cold or flu viruses to invade your body.
Exercise has immune-system enhancing effects that can help ward off illness. Don’t overdo exercise though, as too much strenuous or excessive exercise can leave you prone to illness. Make sure that you get adequate sleep every night. Get at least seven to eight hours sleep nightly.
Sleep and rest
Getting adequate sleep and rest is perhaps the most important thing you can do to optimize your immune function. Just a few nights of not sleeping well can elevate inflammatory markers and reduce the protective capability of your immune system. That’s why it’s a good idea to go to bed earlier, sleep longer and rest more in the winter season.
Keep your distance from people displaying symptoms like sneezing and coughing. While that strategy may seem obvious, it applies to more than just strangers and colleagues. Stay away from sick friends and family when possible.
Flu is a highly infectious illness caused by the flu virus. It spreads rapidly through small droplets coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person. Some people are at greater risk of developing serious complications of flu, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. The flu vaccination is offered to people in at-risk groups.