7 Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu Season

7 Tips for Staying Healthy During Flu Season

1. Get the flu shot. This is the number one way of protecting yourself against the flu. The seasonal shot protects against the influenza strains researchers predict will be most common each flu season. The vaccination is available to everyone 6 months and older. People should get vaccinated in the early fall to ensure your body has enough time to build up a resistance, as it takes two weeks after the vaccination date to fully develop and protect your immune system. Though the shot is usually still available through late January, supplies permitting, the CDC recommends getting it no later than the end of October. Fortunately, this is one of the most accessible vaccinations, available at most drug stores, health clinics, doctor offices – and nowadays, many employers and universities even offer complimentary flu shots!

2. Regularly wash your hands. How does the flu spread? By tiny droplets of germs transferring to commonly used surfaces or through direct human contact. Say a person with the flu sneezes, blows their nose, or simply wipes their eyes. Then they open a door or shake someone’s hand without washing their hands – just like that, the virus has probably spread. The best way to protect yourself (second to the flu shot) is to frequently wash your hands. And do it properly – washing with soap and water for 20 seconds to ensure all germs are washed away. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you for when a sink wash isn’t possible.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose. Wiping your nose and rubbing your eyes may seem innocent, but these acts can actually get you sick. Germs are spread when a person touches something that is contaminated, then proceeds to touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. Play it safe and avoid all contact with your face. If you do need to touch your face, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer beforehand. If you find yourself sick, always cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing into a tissue, and then make sure you wash your hands. This will prevent those surrounding you from catching your illness.

4. Keep your home clean. Are you regularly sanitizing commonly used surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops? Germs manifest in these areas, so be sure you are sanitizing these surfaces on a regular basis with a disinfectant. Additionally, make sure you regularly clean your sheets, switch out your toothbrush, and always change out of dirty clothes when you get home. Work at a desk? You’ll also want to make sure you’re sanitizing your workspace every day.

5. Consume nutrient-dense foods. Health starts from within. Are you consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods on a daily basis? Make conscious eating decisions to ensure your immune system is strong and able to protect your body against viruses. Your body is especially susceptible to illness during colder months, so be sure you’re eating ample amounts of fruits and vegetables, and also drinking water. We recommend a diet rich in vitamins C and E to keep your immune system strong. You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits, kale, cantaloupe, and cauliflower, and Vitamin E in avocado, sunflower seeds, almonds, and salmon. 

6. Get Enough Sleep. The average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep – but keep in mind children and teenagers need even more. Forgoing adequate levels of sleep each night could compromise the strength of your immune system. Give yourself enough rest to keep your body’s natural defense system performing at optimal levels. Remove distractions from your bedroom, including electronics, to help you fall asleep quicker. We recommend nighttime routines that calm your mind and body, such as meditation and other screen-free activities.

7. When in doubt, stay home. If you feel an illness coming on, always play it safe and stay home. Not only are you giving your body the rest it needs, but you’re also keeping others safe from the risk of infection. This means taking the day off from work, school, and any unnecessary errands. Strenuous activities will only make your sickness worse, so give your body the rest it needs. You will need to preserve as much energy as possible to recover from the flu. Make sure you’re drinking enough water and consuming nutrient-dense foods throughout the recovery process.

Interested in joining Dockside Pediatrics for top-level care whether you have the flu or not? Enroll today.