Simple Ways to Avoid Getting the Flu
The Flu Season is Here ... Eek!
The flu season has begun and is expected to last through March. Hospitals are testing all patients coming in with flu-like symptoms and healthcare workers are taking precautions to avoid the spread of the flu. I work in a hospital and every year I care for patients with the flu and I see my co-workers sick and missing work due to the illness. I also have two kids in public schools that occasionally bring home viruses. Like many families, once one person comes home sick, the next thing you know, everyone in the house is sick! Somehow, I dodge the cold and flu every year. Maybe I have an amazing immune system? Maybe I was bit by a spider and I received super powers to fight off bacteria and viruses? Maybe I just take all the right precautions to stay healthy? If you ask me, it's because I'm a super hero and I just don't quite know it yet
Get the Flu Shot
The most obvious thing you can do is get the flu vaccination. See the link below for vaccination information.
If you cannot get the flu shot or you simply have beliefs that cause you to not get the flu shot, you can still increase your chances of not getting sick.
- Preventing Seasonal Flu With Vaccination| Seasonal Influenza (Flu) | CDC
Preventing Seasonal Flu With Vaccination - CDC
Get Enough Sleep
Our bodies need adequate sleep in order to function properly. Sleep is vital to our health and not getting enough can cause many problems, including the weakening of our immune system. There is no magic number of how much sleep each one of us needs, as it varies with age. However, adults should aim for 7-8 hours a day. See the link below for the recommended hours of sleep by age and information about tips for improving your sleep. If our bodies don't get enough sleep, our bodies can becomes stressed. Increased stress causes changes in our bodies that can weaken our immune systems. Sleep should not be underestimated! I wish for you the sweetest of dreams as you allow your body to rest, rejuvenate, strengthen and heal during sleep.
Wash Your Hands
I know you've heard this over and over again, but you wouldn't believe the number of people that forget to wash their hands with soap. Washing your hands is the simplest and one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness.
When to wash your hands:
1. Before eating - every time!
2. Before touching your face (especially your mouth, nose and eyes), if you can't get to a sink, then don't touch your face
3. After using the bathroom
4. Before cooking
5. Before unloading the dishwasher and after loading the dishwasher
6. Any time!
Teach your kids the importance of washing their hands and repeat it to them periodically to drill it in. I also make sure my kids always have a mini hand sanitizer in their backpacks for times they don't have easy access to a sink with soap and water. I also carry hand sanitizer in my purse for those occasions. I also provide my kids with tissue for their backpacks so that they aren't wiping their noses with their hands.
Think of all the things we touch in public: doorknobs, atm keys, shared computer keyboards, sink faucet handles, etc. If we are touching them, others are too, and I certainly don't trust that those areas are cleaned properly by any cleaning crew. Don't get me started, well, too late, but I'll keep it lite. All I have to do is picture someone using the bathroom and not washing their hands afterward and then seeing them touch what I just touched. Eww. That is a great hand washing motivator!
Eat Healthy, It's Your Natural 'Flu Shot'
A healthy diet promotes a strong immune system. Avoiding processed and sugary food and drinks is essential. Pay attention to the food labels. You can also use apps like MyFitnessPal to look up food and drink ingredients. If you're out to eat, I recommend looking up the ingredients before ordering it. It can stop you from eating it. Eating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables are key. Also, make sure you are drinking plenty of water! The better you take care of your body, the longer it will last you and the healthier it will be.
I started juicing a few years ago, and I make sure I juice everyday during the flu season. I have noticed we get sick even less often since I started this habit, as I have my family drinking it. Granted, my son is much pickier and he won't drink certain juices I make, so I just add a little more fruit and less veggies to his juices so that it tastes sweeter to him, so he is still getting the benefits of the other ingredients. The taste of it grows on you, I promise. It tastes odd in the beginning, but within a few days it actually tastes good. Especially when you notice how great you feel since drinking it and you get down the ingredients you like to produce the flavor you enjoy. It takes some playing with. The ingredients that I always use are: kale, spinach, romaine, celery (including the leaves), apple, pear, pineapple, ginger root, turmeric root, and parsley. For my love and I, we also add beet roots, including the leaves. When we juice, we feel more energetic and less tired. It has also helped to take away sugar and salt cravings. Juicing gives your immune system a powerful boost And help your body fight off colds and flu quicker. It's my own natural flu shot!
Exercise at least 3 times a week, even if it consists of taking a walk. Exercise boosts our immune systems as well.
- The American Heart Association's Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations
The American Heart Association's Diet & Lifestyle Recommendations.
- Juicing: How Healthy Is It?
WebMD talks to experts about health risks and benefits of juicing fruits and vegetables.
Maintain a Clean House and Work Space
Germs are invisible to the naked eye and can be spread by touching surfaces. Keep your home and your work space clean. Disinfect commonly touched areas at least once a week and even more often when someone in the house is sick. Disinfect with Lysol or any other product you prefer. Make sure you disinfect the doorknobs, light switches, fridge door, microwave keypad, cabinet doors, toilet handles, remote controls, phones, washer and dryer buttons, etc. Just walk around your house and identify the areas you touch. Make sure you also change the air filter in your home every 3 months. In the hospital, we are required to disinfect all surfaces in our work space and patient rooms at the start of each shift in efforts to prevent the spread of germs and to create and maintain a clean environment. Your environment should be clean to promote good health. It matters!
Avoid Sick People
Its that simple. Avoid going near those that are sick. If you can't avoid it, for instance it is someone you're caring for, then ask them to cough away from you and others and ask them to cough into their elbow. Generally, you are considered at risk if you are within 3 feet of a sick person if they cough or sneeze.
Teach Your Children Preventative Measures
If you are a parent like me, then you know the feeling of dreading the flu season. Adults can be fantastic at preventing the spread of germs, but every member of your house has to do their part to help keep them away from your home. If your kids are around other children, we all know they can get sick and bring a cold or flu home. So teach your kids to wash their hands as discussed above and not to share drinks with others. Its popular for kids to shake hands or bump knuckles to communicate hello, this is a great way for those pesky germs to spread. Educate your kids so they don't get sick and then bring the germs home with them.
Do you usually get sick during flu season?
Thank you for taking the time to read my hub. I know some of this is information most of us may already know, but it's always good to be reminded of ways to prevent us from getting sick. Until we can develop super healing powers, we need to be mindful of our lifestyle choices and the effects they can have on our bodies and our immune system. If I can help even one person be healthier, then this is a success. Stay healthy!