As the weather gets colder, the number of cases of cold, flu, and other respiratory illnesses increases. The flu becomes especially common this time of year. The flu virus causes unpleasant symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle or body aches, cough, sore throat, headaches, runny or stuffy nose, and fatigue. There are a few precautions you can take to help you avoid catching the flu this year. Here are seven tips you should follow to stay healthy during flu season.
1. Get a Flu Shot
One of the best ways to stay healthy during flu season is getting a flu shot. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months of age and older who is medically cleared. Because flu viruses mutate each year, it’s best to get a flu shot every year for maximum protection against the currently circulating strain. This vaccine will help your body build immunity to flu viruses and cause your body to make antibodies so it can fight against them. It’s best to get a flu shot toward the beginning of flu season before people around you start getting sick.
2. Wash Your Hands
Another one of the best things you can do to stay healthy during flu season is to wash your hands often. Hand washing is the first defense against the flu because it removes the virus from your skin’s surface before it can enter your body. Research has found that regular hand washing may reduce transmission of respiratory illness by more than 20 percent. Make sure you scrub every part of your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds and repeat as often as possible throughout the day.
3. Disinfect Surfaces
The flu virus and other illness-causing germs can live on hard surfaces for several hours or even up to several days. Surfaces such as countertops, electronics, toys, thermometers, gym equipment, door handles, light switches, phones, etc. are all breeding grounds for germs. If you want to stay healthy during flu season, it’s important to disinfect hard surfaces often to reduce the transmission of respiratory illnesses. Though soft surfaces such as clothing and stuffed animals are less likely to spread germs, these items should still be washed after coming into contact with a sick person as an extra precaution.
4. Take Vitamins
If a pathogen like the flu virus enters your body, it’s up to your immune system to fight it off to prevent infection. That’s why it’s important to boost your immune system by making sure it has the vitamins and nutrients it needs to function properly. Research suggests that taking vitamin C before getting sick can shorten the duration of colds and flu and possibly even prevent them. Taking zinc may also decrease the duration of respiratory illness. Another great vitamin to take if you want to stay healthy during flu season is vitamin D3, as this vitamin has been shown to support a healthy immune system.
5. Get Plenty of Sleep
Quality sleep is necessary for all parts of your body to function at their peak, including your immune system. Studies have shown that individuals who sleep for less than seven hours per night are up to three times more likely to catch colds and flu than those who get at least eight hours of sleep. If you want to strengthen your immune system to stay healthy during flu season, make sure you’re getting plenty of quality sleep.
6. Avoid Touching Your Face
Your mouth, nose, and eyes are common entry points for germs like the flu virus. If you touch these areas of your face, you risk letting these germs into your body where they can then cause illness. Even if you are washing your hands frequently, you should still avoid touching your face. You never know if you’ve recently touched an object that a sick person had previously touched.
7. Get Some Fresh Air
One of the reasons why flu season occurs during the colder months is because that’s when people are spending most of their time indoors sharing the same air. This makes it easy for viruses like the flu to spread from one person to another. Let some fresh air in by opening a window, or step outside for a short walk. Breathing in fresh air can do wonders for clearing out your lungs. If you can’t get fresh air from outdoors, invest in an air purifier to remove allergens and pathogens from the air.
Boost Your Immune System to Stay Healthy During Flu Season
Following these tips daily can help reduce your chances of catching the flu and other respiratory illnesses so that you can stay healthy during flu season. If you want to significantly reduce your chances of getting sick this winter, you should take additional steps to strengthen your immune system. Check out these ways to boost your immune system so your body can protect itself this season.