Tips for Preventing and Dealing with Flu Symptoms
It’s that time of year again – the time when an unwelcome visitor makes its appearance – the flu. Millions of people come down with the flu every year. Although the symptoms can be tough to deal with and can take you out of commission for a few days or more, most people recover. A small percentage of people, especially the elderly and children under the age of 5 may develop complications that are life-threatening. That’s why the best strategy is to take steps to prevent it.
There’s no sure-fire way to ensure you won’t succumb to the influenza virus. Even the influenza vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of the flu virus. On the other hand, it does significantly lower the risk of getting it. That’s why it’s a good idea to get the vaccine before flu season rolls around since it takes about 2 weeks to develop immunity after the vaccination. It’s even more important that you get the flu vaccine if you fall into a high-risk group. People at high risk for flu complications include pregnant women, young children and people with chronic health problems.
Flu Prevention Tips
So what can you do to reduce your risk of getting the flu if you didn’t get vaccinated? Here are some tips to help you stay healthy during flu season:
Wash your hands. It sounds simple but it’s a step many people don’t do often enough. Wet your hands thoroughly with water and soap. Then rub them together, ensuring you wash your fingers too for at least 20 seconds. Carry hand sanitizer in your bag when you’re on the go and can’t get to a sink.
Hands off! Make it a habit not to touch your face and eyes with your hands, especially during flu season. Clean surfaces you come in contact with frequently like computer keyboards, door knobs, the surface of your desk at work etc. The influenza virus can live for up to 10 minutes on surfaces.
Get sleep. Spend more time snoozing. A healthy immune system is the best defense against the flu, and skimping on sleep reduces your ability to fight off infection. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night, and 8 is even better.
Eat a balanced diet. Make it a point to eat more whole foods – not processed ones. Whole foods like fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and other natural chemicals that keep your immune system healthy and primed to fight off viruses. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C and zinc. Vitamin C and zinc both play an important role in immune health. Some research suggests that certain foods and beverages like white tea, elderberry tea, garlic, ginger and button mushrooms have anti-viral or immune-enhancing properties. Add more of these foods to your diet.
Stay active. Moderate exercise boosts immunity, but don’t overdo it. Long periods of exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, has the opposite effect. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day.
Treating Influenza Symptoms
What if, despite your best efforts, flu hits home and you’re laid up in bed? If you think you have the flu, call your doctor as soon as possible. They can give you an anti-viral medication that will shorten the course of some forms of influenza if you start taking it within 48 hours.
Otherwise, your best bet is to do common sense things like drink lots of fluids. White tea and elderberry tea are good choices – and stay in bed. Do yourself and others a favor by not going anywhere until your fever is gone. You probably won’t feel like doing much anyway.
If you experience a high fever (103 degrees or above), are short of breath, have a headache, can’t stop vomiting or have a fever that lasts longer than 3 days, see a doctor right away. A fever that goes away and returns is another concerning symptom you should let your doctor know about.