Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu Season
Flu season is upon us, which means it’s essential to ward off germs that threaten to knock you down. People 65 years and older, those with a chronic condition, pregnant women, and young children are at high risk of developing serious complications related to the flu, so take care this season to avoid catching the flu and spreading it to others!
Here are six tips for staying healthy this flu season:
1. Get your flu shot early. The flu vaccine is the best protection against influenza. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for antibodies that protect against the virus infection to kick in, which is why it’s important to get your shot early. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of the vaccine, and there are many clinics that offer free or low-cost vaccinations. (You can find a list of locations near you here.) The more people who get their vaccinations, the less chance the flu has to spread and the more people who can stay healthy during flu season.
2. Wash your hands frequently. Everything you touch—from your grocery cart handle, to the gas pump, to the credit card machine, to the office refrigerator door—has germs with the potential to make you sick. That’s why it’s important to make a habit of washing your hands after you run errands, before you eat, and any other time you come in contact with germs. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and keep hand sanitizer in your bag or glove compartment for those times when you’re not able to wash your hands.
3. Get your eight hours. You can’t avoid all germs, but you can increase the odds that you don’t succumb to them. Getting plenty of sleep is one of the most effective ways of doing just that. Researchers in a sleep study found that adults who slept just five or six hours a night were four times more likely to get sick than people who slept for at least seven hours. So get some shuteye!
4. Drink plenty of water. Water flushes out toxins and carries nutrients and oxygen to your cells. And by drinking plenty of it, you’ll be more energized, alert, and less likely to suffer from headaches.
5. Dehydration can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to the flu virus and other nasty germs. Though every body has different needs, the old “eight glasses a day” rule is an easy one to follow. Bottom line: If you’re at all thirsty, or if it’s been a couple hours, drink a glass of water.
6. Stay active. While it’s tempting to hibernate during the winter months, it’s important not to become sedentary. Exercise has countless benefits for everything from heart disease to stress and bone health, and it may even help flush out bacteria from the lungs, reducing your chances of getting a cold or flu. Even just a 30-minute walk in the fresh air can do wonders for your health.
7. Keep stress at bay. The holiday season is a busy time for everyone, and it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle. But it’s important to take time to slow down: Stress raises your blood pressure, which can have a detrimental effect on your immune system. Getting sick will only add to your stress, not to mention it’ll make the otherwise festive season a lot less fun! So take the season one day at a time, don’t save your shopping and cooking for the last minute, and don’t stress if everything isn’t done just right. Embrace the madness and imperfection and enjoy the season with people you love.
If you have questions about staying healthy during flu season, contact your Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups specialist today.