It’s the end of January and flu season is in full swing. According to Latinos Post, all but two states currently report widespread flu activity, with 30 reporting high levels of flu-like illness. So far in the 2012 to 2013 flu season, 29 child deaths have been attributed to flu; the federal government does not collect statistics regarding adult deaths due to influenza. If you’re wondering how to protect yourself from the flu, here are some tips for you.
Wash your hands.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself from the flu is to wash your hands often and thoroughly. Use soap and warm water if available; otherwise, use hand sanitizer.
Don’t touch your face.
Keep your hands away from your face, including your nose and mouth, as much as possible. Touching your nose and mouth is a sure-fire way to introduce flu germs into your system.
Clean and Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces
Flu germs linger on common surfaces; when you touch them, then touch your nose or mouth, the germs enter your body. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often, including things like telephones, door knobs, shared work surfaces, and similar items. Use bleach and water, alcohol wipes, or other disinfectant wipes.
Harvard Health Publications explains that many vitamins and minerals support healthy immune system functioning, including vitamin D, vitamin E, iron, zinc, and selenium. If you eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains, you probably get all the vitamins and minerals you need. If your diet is less than ideal, however, you might benefit from taking a multivitamin supplement.
Get enough rest.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that studies have found that the immune system works best when you get enough rest; in fact, getting fewer than seven hours of sleep at night can impair the immune system. Vaccines are even more effective if you get enough rest. Simply getting a good night’s sleep can help you prevent the flu.
Get a flu shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone over the age of six months get a flu vaccine, with a few exceptions. People that have had bad reactions to flu shots in the past should not get a flu shot again. Those that are allergic to eggs should not get flu shots. People with a history of Guillain-Barre Syndrome should not get flu shots. You should not get a flu shot while you are ill or have a fever, either; wait until you’re well.
Latinos Post. http://www.latinospost.com/articles/9880/20130118/flu-epidemic-2013-symptoms-cdc-reports-high.htm. Flu Epidemic 2013 Symptoms: CDC Reports High ‘Influenza-Like Illness’ for 17 States, NYC, As 29 Children Confirmed Dead.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2012-2013.htm. What You Should Know for the 2012 – 2013 Influenza Season.
Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/influenza/DS00081/DSECTION=prevention. Flu Prevention.
Harvard Health Publications. http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm. How to Boost Your Immune System.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. http://www.rwjf.org/en/about-rwjf/newsroom/newsroom-content/2012/08/sleep-tight–the-immune-system-needs-rest-to-work-best.html. Sleep Tight: The Immune System Needs Rest to Work Best.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/keyfacts.htm. Key Facts About Seasonable Flu Vaccine.