Over the last few days, I have spoken with several of our readers who are battling the flu. Below are some flu prevention tips that may help your family stay healthy and avoid the outbreak.
The CDC, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, says the #1 best way to prevent the flu is by being vaccinated each year. The flu shot is available at most clinics and hospitals throughout the nation. The average cost is about $25-$30, but that cost may be reduced if you have health insurance. Check to see if your health insurance policy covers the flu shot. Also, check with your employer as many companies are offering free flu shots to all their employees.
Good Health Habits Can Stop Germs
For some, I know the flu shot is not an option, or for whatever reason, some may choose not to get vaccination. Here are a few tips for maintaining optimal health.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, stay home and keep your distance from others to prevent them from getting sick too.
- Cover your mouth or nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside crook of your elbow, not your hands. Doing this may help others from catching the illness.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand rub sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.
Practice Good Health Habits Year Round
Maintaining overall good health is one of the best ways to help your body stay well. Here are ways to maintain good health year round.
- Get plenty of sleep. The average adult needs between 6-8 hours of sleep a night.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Nutritionists recommend 8-10 glasses of water a day.
- Eat nutritious food, especially those high in Vitamin C and Zinc. Both of these play a key part in boosting the body’s immune system. Foods that are high in Vitamin C and Zinc include: leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and broccoli.
- Consider a daily multi-vitamin that provides 100% of the FDA daily recommended allowances of Vitamin C, B6, B12, Zinc, and Iron.
- Try to exercise on a regular basis. Those that exercise or walk for 30 minutes a day 3-4 times a week tend to stay healthier than those with a sedentary lifestyle.
- Try to keep stress to a minimum, stress can wear the body out physically and mentally. Home and life organization can play a key part in keeping the entire family happy and healthy.
What Should I Do if I Get the Flu?
One could do everything mentioned above and still come down with the flu. People who are at a high risk for flu such as the elderly, children, infants, those with asthma, diabetes, COPD, high blood pressure, or other long term health conditions are encouraged to seek medical attention at the onset of flu symptoms.
Your doctor can provide an anti-viral prescription medication to lessen the severity of the flu. Flu drugs are taken at the onset of flu and may help decrease the severity and duration of flu symptoms.
The CDC recommends Relenza or Tamiflu, these medications are most effective when given within 48 hours of the onset of illness. They can also decrease the duration of the flu by one day if used within this early time period. These medications are usually given for a period of about five days and are sometimes used to help prevent the flu in someone exposed to another person with the flu.
For most healthy individuals, not in the high risk category, the following is a list of recommendations:
Tip #1: Stay home and get plenty of rest.
On the first day of flu symptoms, you may need to call your work or school and tell them you’re not coming in for a few days because you’re sick — and very contagious! Then, take advantage of these days and let your body have much-needed rest. Pull out your favorite movies, curl up on the couch, and spend laying low while your body battles the virus.
Tip #2: Drink plenty of fluids.
Increase fluids such as water, fruit juices, sports drinks, and clear soups (like chicken soup). Fluids help keep your respiratory system hydrated and liquefy thick mucus that can build up to cause infection in your bronchial tubes.
Tip #3: Treat aches and fever so you feel comfortable.
Got a fever? Fever is a flu symptom and occurs when your body temperature rises to fight off infection (in this case, the flu virus).
Treat fevers and aches with over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve or Naprosyn).
Aspirin should never be given to children and adults younger than 19 years old with symptoms of flu or cold because it is associated with a condition known as Reye’s Syndrome, a very serious illness that damages the brain and liver.
Tip #4: Use cough suppressants and expectorants to treat the cough.
Over-the-counter cough remedies are available to suppress cough. There are also over-the-counter expectorants that liquefy thick mucus so it can be coughed up, though there is some disagreement among doctors about how well these cough medicines work. Also, consider hot peppermint tea, peppermint is great for soothing coughs and sore throats.
Tip #5: Use steam inhalations.
Fill the bathroom sink with steaming water. Add 1 teaspoon of the over-the-counter ointment Vicks Vapo Rub to the steaming water, and then breathe in the steam for several minutes until you get relief. Another alternative is to add a few drops of oil of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) or menthol to the water. Eucalyptus may help open up bronchial tubes, ease congestion, and make breathing a little easier.
Tip #6: Sit in a steamy bathroom.
If you are still congested, sit in a bathroom with the door closed and allow the shower to run hot until the room fills with moist steam. Inhaling the moisture can help to open your airways.
Tip #7: Run the humidifier.
If the air is dry, a warm mist humidifier or vaporizer can moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean, however, to prevent the growth of bacteria and molds.
Tip #8: Try soothing lozenges.
Sucking on soothing lozenges will help to moisten and coat your scratchy throat and reduce the cough associated with flu.
Tip #9 Try saline (salt water) nasal drops.
Saline nose drops are available over-the-counter at any drug or grocery store and are effective, safe, and nonirritating, even for children. Put several drops into one nostril, and then gently blow the mucus and saline out of that nostril. Repeat the process in the opposite nostril until both are unblocked.
Do you have more recommendations or perhaps homeopathic remedies that I didn’t mention above? How does your schedule and routine change when family members are sick?