If patients don’t make an effort to prevent it, odds are they’ll catch the flu this season. The influenza virus is highly contagious and can cause mild to severe symptoms. Fortunately, there are several effective ways for patients to avoid getting sick this flu season.
Experts agree the flu vaccine remains the best way for patients to protect themselves from influenza. Furthermore, getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect their health, it also helps the people around them because there’s less chance they’ll catch the flu and pass it on. Ideally, patients should get their flu shot as early as possible for maximum protection, however, it is never too late to get the vaccine. Because the body can take up to two weeks to build immunity after a flu vaccine, it’s still important to take conscious actions to avoid getting the flu.
STOP THE SPREAD OF GERMS
- Frequent handwashing with soap and water is a proven and important line of defence against germs like flu viruses. Encourage patients to wash their hands for at least 20-30 seconds before rinsing them. If soap and water are not available, they should use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth – three places flu viruses can easily enter the body.
- Social distance. Flu viruses travel through the air, so avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then throw the tissue away. That way, you’re not spreading the virus when you touch surfaces that other people may touch too.
- Although relevant year-round, when shaking hands during flu season, in particular, patients should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser as soon as possible thereafter.
- Carrying their own pens during flu season will protect patients from exposure to potential germs when using someone else’s.
- Stay home if you have the flu. Not only does this stop patients from spreading the flu to other people but resting helps them recover sooner.
BOOST IMMUNE SYSTEM
The immune system is a complex network of specific immune cells and proteins that work together to protect the body against foreign invaders The body’s first line of defence when the viruses enter the body, the immune system recognises them as being foreign by means of various receptors and launches a defence programme. As a result, it’s particularly important to boost the immune system during flu season.
- Good nutrition: A healthy immune system requires regular nourishment. Healthy foods including five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day
- Supplements: There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies – for example, deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E – alter immune responses. If a patient’s diet is not providing the nutrients with their body needs, a suitable supplement should be considered.
- Keep stress in check: Stress creates a hormone in the body called cortisol. In short spurts, cortisol can boost the body’s immunity by limiting inflammation. However, too much cortisol can suppress the immune system’s effectiveness in fighting off invaders by lowering the number of lymphocytes present in the blood and interfering with normal white blood cell communication.
- Get enough sleep: A good night’s rest allows the body to build up its natural defences against disease. Studies show that people who don't get quality sleep or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, like those that cause influenza. Adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Stay hydrated: Water helps to carry oxygen to the body cells, which results in properly functioning systems. Because it removes toxins from the body. Drinking enough water could help prevent toxins from building up and having a negative impact on the immune system. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important for ensuring a speedy recovery from flu as it helps loosen mucus in the nose and relieve congestion.
- Regular exercise: Just like a healthy diet, regular exercise can boost the immune system and help fight off infections. Exercise allows immune cells to perform effectively, it increases blood flow, reduces stress and inflammation, and can strengthen antibodies.