With holiday high season just about in full swing, going down for the count with a case of the flu is a sneezing, sniffling, aching scenario that we all want to avoid. With that goal in mind, flu prevention should top our collective priority lists.
Step One: Take a Shot
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the most effective means of avoiding influenza;
- Everyone who is at least 6 months old should get a flu vaccine this season;
- Getting vaccinated is especially important for those who are at high risk of developing serious complications – such as pneumonia – if they contract the flu;
- High-risk groups include:
– People with asthma, diabetes, or chronic lung disease;
– Pregnant women;
– Those ages 65 and older;
– Individuals who live with or care for others who are in a high-risk group.
Step Two: Become a Hand-washing Fiend
Although it sounds incredibly simplistic, epidemiologists all attest that one of the most effective actions we can take to ward off the flu is washing our hands thoroughly and frequently. These specific steps are suggested:
- Work up a healthy lather with running water and soap; use of antibacterial soap isn’t necessary.
- For a minimum of 20 seconds, exuberantly wash your palms, between your fingers, and the backs of your hands.
- If, for some reason, you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer can be used; however, the hand sanitizer should be at least 60 percent alcohol.
Step Three: Embrace Humidity
While most of us dread humid weather, if your goal is to fend off the flu, it’s time for humidity to become your BFF. That’s because humid air may well be the flu virus’ Kryptonite. Although scientists haven’t nailed down the particulars, their suspicion is that droplets containing flu virus shrink rapidly in dry environments – a consequence that enables said virus to float around for a longer period of time. Conversely, it’s hypothesized that – in moist air – flu-virus droplets remain heavy, and thus fall to the floor faster.
The moral of the story is this: purchase a humidifier pronto, but be sure that it’s designed to keep the humidity level between 40 and 60 percent.
Step Four: Be a Bit of a Teetotaler
Consuming too much alcohol not only can impair your judgment, it also can impair your white blood cells’ ability to fight off flu viruses; and your white blood cells’ passivism can remain in effect for up to 24 hours after you’ve had a few too many.
While limiting one’s intake of adult beverages is sound advice year-round, it is even more so during flu season. Experts recommend – if you’re going to imbibe – don’t exceed one drink per day, throughout flu season.
Step Five: Befriend Fruits and Veggies
If you’re someone who has always piled your plate high with fruits and veggies, then feel free to skip this step. However, if you’re more of the meat-and-potatoes persuasion, read on.
Fruits and vegetables come equipped with immune-boosting antioxidants that are fierce competitors when it comes to battling the free radicals that are on a mission to lower your body’s natural defenses against threats – such as the flu. So load up on fruits and veggies – particularly those in the brightly colored category – as they pack the most powerful antioxidant punch. Filling a mug with green tea also is recommended.
Cheers to a flu-free, flu season!