You can the flu anytime of year, but it’s very common to come down with a bug between November and March. Also, as the weather gets colder, it provides a better environment for the viruses that cause colds. Dry air and cooler temperatures may also weaken your immune system. Avoiding cold and flu viruses makes your life much easier. Here are some tips on what to do:
Wash your hands
One of the most effective ways to ward off germs and viruses is to simply wash your hands. You don’t need anything too fancy – just soap and water will do the trick. You want to really scrub, however, to be sure to remove all the germs. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing. In case you can’t get to a sink, carry some hand sanitizer with you. How often should you wash? If you work with people, as often as you can.
Clean your environment
Viruses don’t only live in people, they live on surfaces. They spread through droplets, which are expelled from a sick person through coughs, sneezes, or just talking. The droplets land on surfaces like tables and door handles, so even if you are washing your hands all the time, you can get the virus from touching a contaminated surface. Keep your surfaces clean and droplet-free. Any surface cleaner will contain the necessary ingredients for avoiding cold and flu viruses, so use whatever you like.
Avoid contact with sick people
Sure, no one wants to appear anti-social, but if you are around someone who is sick, your chances of catching their illness go way up. If you can, do your best to avoid hanging around people who have the cold or flu. While they may look a bit weird, face masks and respirators (these have a tight seal, unlike face masks) actually can prevent you from inhaling virus-infused droplets, so if you must be around people (like on airplanes or trains), it’s an option.
Get a flu shot
Though there’s some variation year to year, the CDC says that getting a flu vaccine reduces your chances of coming down with the flu by 60%. Getting it before flu season hits is the best protection, since it takes about two weeks for antibodies to build up. As soon as you start seeing the flu shot being offered in your area, get one. Certain people are more vulnerable to complications from the flu, so it’s especially important for everyone to get one to protect the community. Bear in mind that flu shots won’t protect you from the cold, so be sure to maintain other healthy habits to stay well.
Keep your immune system in top shape
No matter how often you wash your hands or clean your environment, you will come into contact with germs. Keeping your immune system as strong as possible will allow it to fight off those cold and flu viruses. What can you do? Your diet really matters, so be sure to eat nutrient-rich foods and stay hydrated. Sleep is also vital, so if you find yourself really busy during cold and flu season, make good sleep a priority. Exercising can also help your immune system stay strong, and reduce stress. As for vitamins and supplements, some sources say they can help, but always do your research first. A lot of people like taking zinc, but research actually shows it isn’t super effective at preventing colds.
Eating the right food can help your immune system get better at avoiding cold and flu viruses. Basil is a good herb to munch on during this season. Here are other plants that can be grown for medicine.