(AscendHealthy)- As tempting as it may seem, moving into a sterile plastic bubble for the duration of the flu season simply isn’t practical. But how do we keep ourselves and our families healthy when everyone around us is sneezing and feverish? We’re glad you asked! Here are some ways to help keep those viruses at bay.
Get a Flu Shot
Many medical professionals agree that one of the best ways to protect ourselves from the flu is to get a flu shot before the season starts. This is especially true for older adults, people with chronic conditions (like heart disease or diabetes), and anyone working with children. While the shot may not protect us from every strain of the flu imaginable, it can still help to minimize the symptoms in those who do get sick and protect against some of the most common strains.
Regular Hand Washing
Hand washing is critical to health throughout the entire year, but especially during the winter months. Most people don’t realize how often they touch their faces, rubbing their eyes or their noses. Those areas contain mucous membranes where viruses love to enter the body. Hand washing is an effective method for reducing the spread of germs and viruses. After a thorough cleansing with soap and water, use a paper towel both to dry the hands and to turn off the water. Using the paper towel to open the door after using a public restroom is helpful, too, just in case others aren’t as fastidious.
Stay Away From Sick People
This isn’t always possible, especially if a family member is sick, but it is helpful to keep some distance from those already suffering from the flu. Those who work with the public should keep hand sanitizer nearby for when they can’t get to a sink for a formal hand washing. Don’t be afraid to wear a mask in public as well.
Keep an eye out for coworkers who are really too sick to be on the job. Some people are dedicated to their jobs, while others are afraid of falling behind or not getting paid. In reality, what may have been a couple of days away from work could easily spiral into a week or more, if complications develop. Encourage staff members to go home so they don’t infect others.
Boost the Immune System
The best offense is a good defense, especially when it comes to the flu. A properly functioning immune system can help protect you from illnesses like the flu. Here are some ways to make sure your immune system is working up to its potential.
- Eat healthy – lots of fruits and veggies
- Get enough sleep – aim for a restful 8 hours when possible
- Reduce stress – stress is an immunity killer, relaxation techniques can help
- Lose weight – being overweight can put stress on the immune system
- Get some exercise – the endorphins will improve your mood, help alleviate stress, and support weight loss efforts
While it may not be possible to avoid the flu altogether, every little bit of preventative action helps. Even if the flu does strike, having heeded some of this advice may shorten the intensity and the duration.
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