If you don’t take precautions, chances are you will catch the flu this season.
For some of us, coming down with the flu just means a few days or weeks off school or from work and then life is back to normal, however for some with health conditions like asthma and diabetes the flu can be far more serious – or – even deadly.
The trick is to NOT get the flu in the first place.
Here are some ways to avoid getting the flu altogether.
- Have your flu vaccine – this is the best way to avoid getting the flu so get your flu shot as soon as you can, it’s best to get it in Autumn, but if you haven’t been able to, still getting it during winter is fine. The vaccine has been designed to protect you against the flu strains health experts believe will be most widespread each flu season. The vaccine itself contains a dead virus. Don’t make excuses for not getting your flu vaccine. While your arm may be a little sore the following day and you may feel a little run-down, achy, or have a low fever you can’t catch the flu from a vaccine.
- It’s easy to catch the flu when a nearby person coughs or sneezes, you can also pick it up from touching a surface – like a table where an infected person has just eaten from. Flu germs can linger for up to 8 hours on tables, door knobs, counter tops and tap handles. When you touch an infected surface, and touch your hands to your eyes, mouth or nose, you are bringing the virus right into your body. While you can try and avoid contact with sick people it’s not always an easy thing to do, especially if you are in the supermarket, cinema or shopping centre. If you can’t avoid sick people, you can at least set up a *germ barrier*
- Wash your hands with warm water and soap any time you have shaken someone’s hand or touched a surface you think may be infected
- Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for those times you can’t get to water and soap.
- Ensure your home is cleaned and disinfected more regularly over the winter months.
- Take care NOT to touch your mouth, eyes or nose without washing your hands first
- Bring along some disinfectant wipes to clean any surfaces you are going to touch.
- Sharing is great – but NOT during the flu season. Be careful with anything you use to touch your mouth – glasses, cups, cutlery and always wash used dishes in the sink with hot water and dishwashing liquid, or place everything into the dishwasher.
Take care of yourself. If you want your immune system to be performing at its peak to fight off germs you have to stay healthy.
- Exercise at least 4 days a week
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night
This will give your body the help it needs to fight off the flu.
Stop smoking. In addition to everything else smoking does to your health and skin it can increase your chances of getting the flu. Smokers tend to get the flu more often than those who don’t smoke, and when they do get sick, smokers tend to get a more serious bout of the flu and their risks of dying from the flu are greater. Being able to hold off the flu is just another good reason to quit smoking.
Make sure you take your medicines. While all these steps can help keep you safe from the flu – there is still a chance you’ll catch it. If you do get sick talk to your doctor about taking over the counter cold and flu medicines – while they can help ease the symptoms, you need to start taking them within the first two days of getting sick.
If you do end up catching the flu – look out for others. Don’t share your cold virus with friends, family and co-workers, you can spread the flu for up to a week after you get sick.
- Sneeze into your elbow – rather than into your hand that way you can’t pass it around
- Stay home until you feel better and your fever has gone (without the help of medicines) for at least 24 hours
- Toss all your used tissues away, don’t leave them around for others to pick up and don’t leave used tissues on benchtops and other surfaces, you are just leaving the virus there for others to catch.