Between September and May, hundreds of thousands of people will succumb to the seasonal flu. Don’t let yourself be a statistic! Here are five things you can do to stave off infection and illness.
Stay away from sick people
If you’re the type of person who keeps dinner plans with someone even though you know he’s sick, listen up: The flu virus spreads from person to person through bodily fluids. If your friend is sick and you’re sitting directly across from him, the likelihood you’ll breathe in his germs is far greater than if you’d opted to reschedule plans instead of risking illness.
Ask people to do the sleeve sneeze
If you do find yourself in the same room as someone who is sick, don’t be afraid to speak up if she’s coughing or sneezing without covering her mouth or nose. Flu viruses spread from person to person through infected bodily fluid such as saliva from a cough or mucus from a sneeze. Politely ask your friend, coworker or family member to cover up the next time she feels a sneeze coming on. Suggest that she sneeze into her elbow instead of into her hand, or pass her a tissue to cover up.
Wash your hands
Even if you’re proactive, you can still pick up viruses on plenty of surfaces: railings, doorknobs, keyboards and so forth. Another easy way to ensure you don’t pick up a virus is to constantly wash your hands with soap and water; it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the flu. Just remember the right way to wash your hands: Scrub them for at least 10 seconds and be sure to wash between your fingers and under your fingernails.
Live a healthy lifestyle
You may be doing a lot to compromise your immune system without knowing it, such as smoking, drinking excessively, neglecting sleep and not eating fruits and vegetables. If you want to stay healthy throughout cold and flu season, change your unhealthy habits. Eat a diet rich in leafy greens, citrus fruits, protein and complex carbohydrates. Get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Ditch vices such as cigarettes or your daily martini. All of this will go a long way to boosting the health and functioning of your immune system.
Get the flu shot
The single most important thing you can do to ensure you don’t get the flu this season is to get vaccinated. Health Canada recommends an annual flu shot for everyone who can get it (and no, the flu shot will not give you the flu); it’s the easiest and most effective way to stave off illness. Plus, the shot keeps you immune to various flu viruses for almost a year, so you’ll only have to get the shot (or take the nasal spray) annually. Talk to your doctor about vaccination options now.