There is no doubt that coming down with the flu can be a miserable experience and in some cases can cause serious health implications. Read on for our handy tips and hints to help you beat the flu and stay as healthy as you can in the run up to the festive season!
Seasonal flu generally starts in the autumn and can last until early spring. Typical symptoms can include: the sudden onset of a high temperature, headaches, aches and pains in the joints, a general feeling of weakness and fatigue, flushed/ warm skin, red watery eyes, a sore throat, dry cough and sometimes an upset stomach or diarrhoea.
As the old saying goes, “Prevention is better than cure” which is handy because just like the common cold, there is no cure for the flu. However there are steps you can take to make sure that your health is in optimum condition and your body is as well prepared as possible to fight the increased number of viruses circulating during this time of year.
1. Flu Vaccination
As mentioned, there is no cure for the flu so the best way to prevent it is to make sure that you get a flu vaccination. Flu complications can be really serious for some people including elderly adults and those with heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and other chronic medical problems. It’s recommended that people get a flu jab in October or November so the body has a chance to build up immunity to the flu virus. It takes two weeks for the flu jab to start working. Still, if you miss the early flu jabs, getting a flu jab in December is wise. The Department of Health recommends the flu vaccination for all adults aged 65 and older as well as for people living in nursing homes (or other long term care facilities), health workers and for anyone who has daily contact with people in the those risk groups. Flu vaccination side effects can be a worry for some people but most of the time the side effects are minimal and can be managed. Still there is a chance that some people may suffer from a mild fever, muscle aches and a slight runny nose after getting the jab. Please do make sure that you talk to your GP to confirm if the flu vaccination is right for you and to see if you at at risk of any more severe side effects.
2. Build Up Your Immune System
Sleeping well, eating well (including lots of fruits and vegetable), managing your stress levels and drinking lots of water can help build a healthy immune system to fight off any cold or flu. An easy way to boost your immune system is to make a smoothie with lots of fruit and vegetables, specifically green leafy vegetables that are rich in vitamins which are beneficial for both a balanced diet and support a healthy immune system. Probiotics are also a great way to easily boost your immune system. In fact not only do they support immune health but they’re also great for optimising thyroid hormones, supporting weight loss, and boosting mood. You can find them in fermented foods as well as yoghurts and aged cheeses. Perhaps the easiest way to consume them is to buy them in supplement form. Because health benefits are linked to specific strains, it’s best to check with your GP to decide which is best for you.
3. Wash Away The Germs
You can limit your exposure to illness by avoiding germs. As well as showering daily it’s important to wash your hands before: eating, preparing food, inserting contact lenses and any other activity that brings you into contact with your eyes or mouth. It is recommended that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and scrub well under your fingernails. Influenza viruses can generally survive on surfaces from two to twenty-four hours. That leaves plenty of time for germs to spread. Some other ways to minimise the spreading of germs include: carrying an alcohol-based hand cleaner for on-the-go use, regularly disinfecting shared surfaces, such as keyboards, telephones, doorknobs and remote controls and finally covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing – remember “catch it, bin it, kill it.”
4. Being Antisocial
Sometimes, it is a good thing to be a little anti-social during cold and flu season. Keeping a distance between yourself and people who are ill is a good step in avoiding a cold. Care should be taken around older family members living in a home with children so as not to pass germs these germs to them. Also, adults that work with children will want to be careful when spending time with elderly family members to not pass germs along.
There are no fail safe guarantees to avoid getting the flu or a cold but by following the above tips you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to fight the flu and enjoy the coming season ahead.
And don’t forget to contact your GP if you have any further questions!