Fortunately, the old adage is true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We’ve gathered a few tips to help you protect your family from the flu this winter:
Wash your hands, surfaces and even cleaning supplies.
Often. Just 15-20 seconds of hand washing with soap and warm water—or alcohol-based rub—can help protect you from germs. Since human influenza viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, kitchen and bath fixtures should also be scrubbed down regularly. Sterilize cellulose sponges in the dishwasher.
Down your vitamin C.
Good sources include citrus fruit, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, nuts and kiwi. Supplements can also help shorten the duration of the virus following its onset.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Proper hydration is essential to a strong immune system and overall health. Water and herbal or flavored teas are the best choice. Avoid alcohol, which may decrease your resistance to viruses.
Practice good health daily.
Exercise, manage stress, eat healthy food and get plenty of rest.
Cover your mouth and nose when you cough.
But be sure to use a tissue; touching your eyes, nose and mouth can help germs spread.
Smoking cigarettes is a major risk factor for influenza, due to structural changes that can occur in the respiratory tract and a decreased immune response.
Clear the air.
Use an air cleaner or filtration system to capture bacteria and other small particles. A humidifier can also help your family breathe a little easier while reducing the incidence of sore throats and respiratory problems.
Play “keep away.”
Avoid crowds wherever possible. Put about six feet of distance between yourself and others as much as possible to avoid contracting the virus. Similarly, if you happen to come down with the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks to avoid spreading the illness.
Last, but not least—schedule a flu shot! The vaccine, available by shot or nasal spray, is recommended for everyone six months of age or older. It protects against infection and illness caused by the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be the most common during the coming season. While the vaccine can prevent the flu altogether, it also helps lesson the severity of the illness in the event onset occurs.