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Prep Time for 2012-2013 Flu Season

Updated on December 1, 2012

Is it Flu Season Already?

When kids return to school, it's time to begin preparations for the flu season ahead.

Even though most years the influenza season peaks in January and February in the United States, health officials advise that the viral infections begin as early as October.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that the beginning of the flu season may begin at any time, since the various viruses pay no heed to calendar months. That's why it's important to begin preparations for keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from the flu as early as possible.

Tips for Getting Kids to Wash Their Hands

Hand Washing: Important Prevention

Year in and year out, health officials cite proper hand washing as the single most important factor in preventing the spread of the flu and many other illnesses spread from contact such as the common cold. WebMD advises that 80 percent of contagious illnesses are spread through touch.

At least 20 seconds of washing hands with soap and warm water is needed to ensure all surfaces of hands are cleaned, touching all surfaces including between fingers and under nails, then rinsing under running water is the recommended method. Any soap will do. Antimicrobial soap isn't necessary -- in fact, many health experts warn against its use.

If soap and water aren't available, use of a hand sanitizer is the second-best option. Use it as you would soap and water, making sure that all hand surfaces are covered.

"Superfoods" for Flu Prevention

Good Nutrition Important to Good Health

"You are what you eat." This axiom is as true in flu prevention as it is for many other conditions and illnesses.

A diet balanced in nutrients is important on a daily basis. A plant-rich diet, such as the Mediterranean eating style, provides important antioxidants and phytonutrients. Both of these substances are important to keeping your immune system in its best shape. Aim for seven servings daily of fruits and vegetables and three servings of whole-grain foods.

Prevention mentions yogurt, oats, barley, garlic, tea, chicken soup, fish, beef and mushrooms as foods known to boost your immune system. Strawberries, blueberries, citrus fruits are additional sources.

Importance of Sleep for Wellness

How to Get Ready for the Flu Season

Physical Activity and Water Intake as Flu Prevention Aids

Hand in hand with good nutrition in promoting your optimal health, an important factor in flu prevention, is the need for adequate hydration and moderate physical activity for 30 or more minutes most days of the week.

Too little or too much physical activity can weaken your immune system, making it more difficult for your body to ward off invading germs.

Adequate hydration is important at all times, but the drier air from indoor heating sources can allow miniscule cracks in your mucus membranes, rendering them easy sources for the invasion of bacteria and viruses.

In hydration, we are talking about water rather than sugary or caffeinated liquids. How much water do you need to drink each day? The University of Tennessee Medical Center advises two simple rules of thumb:

1) Divide your weight in pounds by two. That equals the number of ounces of water you need to drink each day (or)

2) For those people who exercise, multiply your weight in pounds by 2/3 to determine how many ounces of water you need daily

An additional aspect of influenza prevention is the need for adequate sleep. During sleep your body repairs and refreshes itself. When you get less sleep than you need, your immune system can't function as well as it should.

Early Flu Shots Protect All Flu Season

Weighing in on the Flu Vaccine

The topic of vaccinations often brings debate from people both pro and con. The annual flu vaccine developed for the prevention of flu strains predicted to be problematic during the flu season has its opponents and proponents.

Read the recommendations, consider the options and determine for yourself whether getting the flu vaccine for the upcoming flu season is for you and your family or not.

Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine relate that the best prevention against becoming sick with the flu is to receive a flu vaccine.

The recommendation is that everyone at least 6 months of age should get a flu vaccine this year. Because it takes approximately two weeks after receiving the vaccination before your body builds up its immunity to the flu, health officials are advising that people take the vaccination as soon as it is available in your community.

Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about the flu vaccine or whether you or your family members might be in a high risk group to develop potential life-threatening complications from influenza.


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    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Healthylife2, it's good to know that practicing good preventive measures have kept you from getting sick with the flu. I use the same precautions, but do get a flu vaccine each year, something I started when still working in long-term care, and just continue to do so.

      I hope the flu season ahead skips your household altogether.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great tips for avoiding the flu. Hand washing and good nutrition really do work. I was the only one in the house to avoid the flu when I followed those suggestions. I always debate about the flu vaccine and am not sure if I will get it this year. Voted up and sharing this with the flu season approaching.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Brett.Tesol, thank you for the compliment. I'm with you on the flu vaccine; I take one each year, but I also employ the other techniques for avoiding illness.

      There are a number of people who have qualms about taking the flu vaccine for a variety of reasons, so I felt it important to look at an all-around approach to flu prevention.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Nell Rose, I don't think you're alone in your obsession about keeping your hands clean, but certainly more people need to be prudent about the subject.

      I realize that good hand washing is preferable to the use of hand sanitizer when the facilities are available, but in public restrooms I always opt to using hand sanitizer -- and I wait until I've pushed open any and all doors before doing so.

      Thank you much for the read and comments.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      5 years ago from Thailand

      A useful hub, I like that it covered most angles, rather than the typical vaccination approach. Although, I have to admit that I opted for the vaccination when bird flu was rife in Asia! Not sure that it would do much, but thought a boost wouldn't hurt lol.

      Shared, up, useful and interesting. Pinned too.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Really important hub for this time of year, I tend to carry handwash around with me all year, I am a bit obsessive about it! lol! everytime I go out the second I come back indoors I go straight to the tap and wash my hands, as I suffer with asthma I always get the jab because the one and only time I didn't I got flu badly! typical! great hub, and so useful, nell

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Denisemai, isn't it amazing how many things good nutrition, fluid intake and exercise can prevent and even improve? These are things I know intellectually and yet, I myself remain less physically active than I ought to be.

      Sending along some extra mojo to keep the flu virus away.

    • denisemai profile image

      Denise Mai 

      6 years ago from Idaho

      Great straightforward information. Good nutrition, food intake, and exercise--I think I can do that. Because I could really do without the flu.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      TToombso8, thanks for the read and comment. I hope you and yours stay healthy through the upcoming flu season.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great information on getting ready for the flu season this year, LL! Voted up.

    • L.L. Woodard profile imageAUTHOR

      L.L. Woodard 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Thanks for the read and comments, Mama Kim 8. I hope you and your family are able to stay healthy throughout the flu season.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful information here. Nobody in my immediate family has gotten a flu vaccine in years! I didn't know it was such a big deal. Voted up and useful!


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