7 tips for staying healthy during flu season
Flu season is almost here. Seasonal influenza, or “the flu” as most refer to it, is most often caused by type A or B influenza viruses. The flu viruses’ symptoms may vary from mild to slightly serious if it causes more complications.
The flu is often accompanied by fever, dry cough, runny nose, headache, muscle and joint pains, and sore throat. Not all of these symptoms may be present, but one or two or more could cause you inconvenience and malaise.
Most people don’t require medical attention and recover within a week or two at most. Although, if the symptoms are getting more serious, consult your primary care physician. Flu symptoms can also complicate already-existing conditions, so it is best to be vigilant and careful. Read on to know some tips on how to prepare for the upcoming flu season.
Preparing for the flu season
The flu season typically occurs during the winter. From October until March in the northern part of the world and April to September in the southern hemisphere, influenza seems to make rounds in infecting people and spreading around. However, while they may be seasonal in some countries, they can happen all year round in tropical and subtropical countries.
This means that many people are susceptible to contracting the flu, whether it is flu season or not, but particularly during. How do you stop the flu from infecting you and others around you? Prevention is always better than a cure, as many experts would certainly agree. Many prevention methods could help, starting with a very important one: a flu shot.
People Who Are Most at Risk
While anyone can catch the flu during the flu season, groups of people can be particularly vulnerable and have a high risk of infection. These are pregnant women, people older than 65 years of age, young children less than five years of age, and those with chronic and immunocompromising conditions such as AIDS, HIV, and cancer.
Those who work closely with infected or virus-carrying patients in the medical field are also vulnerable. Most flu cases are mild, but for some children, influenza can turn into a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or, worse, pneumonia. Medical attention is immediately needed, especially for children who are only a few months old.
7 Tips on How to Stay Healthy During Flu Season
It has been over a year since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, but it is still making rounds worldwide. Surprisingly, even with COVID-19 mutating and such, last year’s flu season was historically light. Compared to the millions of cases in previous years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) only reported a little over 2,000 cases between September and April 2020.
Influenza and respiratory viruses aren’t particularly lethal. They are viral infections that attack the nose, throat, and lungs and can have inconveniencing symptoms. You want to avoid them as much as you want because while they aren’t usually life-threatening, they can affect your daily activities such as work and life. Below are some tips on how to stay healthy during flu season.
Get your flu shot
The CDC recommends that children six months and older should get the flu shot. Flu vaccination is usually available starting around October, but you can get it at any time of the year as well, just for added protection. You need to get the shot and the rest of the people in your household as well. The flu is a virus that can very easily spread to people who are unprotected by its vaccine.
Wear a mask and wash your hands
These two things are what both the CDC and the WHO have been encouraging everyone to do since the pandemic outbreak. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after putting your hands anywhere near your face.
Barring that, use a sanitizer or rubbing alcohol. Wearing a mask will also prevent you from spreading the virus or contracting it. Be sure to do both properly, and they will be effective protection against the flu.
Stock up on over-the-counter medicine
Antiviral drugs can help reduce symptoms. Cough medicine, decongestants, antihistamines, ibuprofen, and throat lozenges might help alleviate discomfort and pain if you are experiencing any. Over-the-counter medicines are available in drugstores, supermarkets, and even convenience stores. If you need stronger medicines such as antibiotics, your primary care physician could give you a prescription.
Sanitize your house
Flu and respiratory viruses can survive on surfaces outside the human body, and they can live on surfaces for seconds up to days, depending on the type of virus. Sanitize the appliances, doorknobs, light switches, and everything else you frequently come into contact with.
There are products specially formulated to kill germs, bacteria, and viruses. You can use bleach, alcohol, sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen peroxide, and many others. Just don’t mix them.
Eat healthily and be active.
A well-balanced diet of fresh food with a good serving of fruits and vegetables can help boost the body’s immune system. Eat whole-grain food, contains less or no fat, minimal sodium, and has lean protein.
Although, when you are sick, you might be looking to indulge a bit in making yourself feel better. There’s nothing wrong with that so long as you try to keep active as well. Do exercises while you are recovering. Nothing too strenuous to worsen your condition.
Boost your immune system with vitamins
Apart from over-the-counter medicines, stock up on vitamins and supplements that will help your body recover faster. Vitamins B, C, and D are recommended, and vitamin C can help boost the immune system.
It is found in many foods and drinks, but they come in concentrated doses of pills. Up to 2000mg of Vitamin C daily is safe, but only a good 500mg is recommended for adults. You can find them at grocery and drug stores.
Rest and stay hydrated
Being sick with the flu will most likely make you feel tired, worn out, and sometimes even nauseous. Get plenty of rest and sleep. Think of it as recharging — if you leave your phone alone and let it charge on its own, the batteries become full faster.
The same is true for your body. Let your immune system fight out the virus on its own. Take a break from work and other stressful matters and simply rest. Keep a bottle of water and sip on it while you’re at it, too.
How does COVID-19 affect the flu season?
Seasonal influenza outbreaks are caused by viruses that have mutated in small ways. They infect people who have not gained immunity from previous strains of the same virus. When COVID-19 broke out, people dismissed it as nothing worse than a bad case of the flu. However, the influenza strain of the coronavirus is different from all others that have circulated before.
The majority did not have immunity from this virus, and it wreaked havoc across the globe. Fortunately, COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and rolled out to millions, so they should stop the spread of and virus and lessen hospitalizations and deaths. Experts have also seen a positive correlation between the coronavirus and the flu season from last year.
With the precautions people have been taking for COVID-19, such as wearing masks and observing proper hygiene, the flu has infected significantly fewer people, as stated before. These preventive measures have helped protect you and others around you, not just from one type of virus but several. That is why it is important to know and practice them.
What is the forecast for this year’s flu season?
Much like COVID-19, the seasonal flu is also spread via respiratory droplets. Infected droplets are dispersed into the air and inhaled by the nearest person when someone coughs or sneezes. They can also be spread with skin-to-skin contact and contaminated surfaces. With the 2020 flu season going on an all-time low record, surprisingly, experts are expecting a surge for this year.
Many people have been vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccines and are under the impression that they no longer need to practice health protocols. Vaccines are simply there to help prevent infections, not provide a 100% impenetrable shield against every disease. With businesses and schools reopening, there might be a big surge during the flu season. You’ll be lucky if it’s only the flu and not COVID-19.
The flu season is almost here. While almost everyone knows what to do with the common cold, you never know what complications arise. It is always better to be prepared during the flu season, and one of the best ways of doing this is by getting your flu vaccine.
Just like how the COVID-19 vaccines work, the flu shot will be an added layer of protection for you and others around you. Getting the flu is never fun, as you may already be well aware of, but taking precautions is never a bad thing. It will also prevent your family and friends from contracting it from you. Stay healthy and improve your chances of fighting off viral infections as much as you can.