With pumpkin spice lattes and sweater weather happily upon us, flu season might not be a concern until it’s too late. When your child returns from school with a fever accompanied by chills or you notice achy muscles and a headache while at work, a flu shot might not optimally function if the virus has already infiltrated your immune system. In addition to acquiring an annual flu vaccination at the start of flu season, these five preventative tips could drastically reduce the likelihood of getting the flu.
OUTSMARTING THE FLU: WHY EDUCATION IS THE BEST FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE
A common misconception of influenza, the medical term for the flu, is the belief that it is merely a progression of the common cold. Unfortunately, the flu does not stem from a cold and is known for causing exponentially more hospitalizations than a cold if left untreated.
In addition to experiencing chills, headaches, muscle aches, coughing, respiratory discomfort, and a fever, more serious symptoms of influenza include:
- A deep or hacking cough that can also be accompanied by mucus
- Severe nausea and/or vomiting
- Long-lasting fatigue
- High, persistent fever
Understanding the symptoms can help you recognize when you need to seek proper medical attention and treatment. The flu can quickly escalate in severity if not properly monitored. Furthermore, noticing early symptoms in others can help you avoid coming in contact with the virus.
KEEP IT CLEAN: WHY HYGIENE FIGHTS THE SPREAD OF THE FLU
As influenza is highly contagious, a simple way to fight against the flu is through maintaining personal hygiene and overall cleanliness. Though frequent hand-washing, sanitization, and disinfecting helps diminish the likelihood of exposure to virus or bacteria spread through germs, you also need to be mindful of what travels through the atmosphere. Anyone who develops symptoms should avoid public places such as schools, workplaces, or any crowded establishments.
It is imperative to be proactive in stopping or slowing the contagion of any illness. Covering any cough or sneeze can be effectively done by the use of tissues, your hand, or the inside of your elbow, followed by a prompt sanitization to protect anyone nearby. Disinfecting household surfaces such as kitchen counters, garbage cans, toilets, sinks, and doorknobs can also prevent the creation of hose environments for bacteria and viruses. Take note of other items frequently used but rarely cleaned:
- Pocket Change
- Remote Controls
- Light Switches
The spread of viruses and bacteria decreases when you regularly disinfect items in your home and workplace.
REST AND RETAIN: WHY SLEEPING AND MANAGING STRESS PROTECT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Sleep is one of the most necessary elements of bodily maintenance. While you rest, your body works hard to eliminate waste material in the brain, recovers physical strength, and rejuvenates the immune system. Without a fully-functional immune system, your body will find it incredibly challenging to fight any health compromises throughout the flu season. The amount of sleep needed each night varies for each individual, but adults should generally receive between seven and nine hours.
Regarding the importance of sleep, the Harvard Health Letter published in August of 2019 states: “Nearly 50% of us sleep less than the recommendations. That’s worrisome because the average person has worse health outcomes (including more obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and shorter life) if he or she sleeps less or more than these ranges, on average.” In the event that you cannot receive an adequate night’s rest, try taking one or two naps during the day for no more than thirty minutes at a time.
A major contributor to a poor sleep-schedule is stress. It can stem from an overbearing workload, financial incompetencies, relationship impairments between friends and loved ones, or simply from the pressure you place on yourself. Mental health must be preventatively monitored just as closely as physical health.
Stress Management Techniques
When feeling an overwhelming surge of anxiety, try to find a stress-relieving outlet such as:
- Calming music
- Reaching out to family and loved ones
- Professional counseling
Maintaining upkeep on your mental health and stress levels will allow your body to better restore itself through resting. Therefore, the more rested your body and mind are, the better you can fight against illnesses. Find more tips on how to maintain heart health in one of our recent blog posts.
THE HEART OF THE MATTER: WHY CARDIO EXERCISE KEEPS YOU FLU-SEASON READY
Exercise is another fundamental element that improves all aspects of physical health. Cardio-concentrated workouts help improve the cardiovascular system and all things heart-related. Like the engine to a vehicle, heart health sets the tone for the rest of the body, including your immune system. Be sure to remember maintaining hygiene while using public gyms and recreation centers during your exercise regimes through utilizing sanitization wipes or sprays.
FIGHTING WITH FOOD: WHY COLORFUL, NUTRIENT-PACKED PLATES HELP YOUR HEALTH
A colorful dinner does not have to be solely aesthetically pleasing. It can also help your body! Filling your meals with colorful fruits and vegetables offer various nutrients that generate flu-fighting antibodies. Some popular foods known for fighting influenza are:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Plain yogurt
Meals filled with chemicals, dyes, and unnatural substances affect optimal heart health functionality and for your body to pull the nutrients necessary for building up the immune system.
MCR HEALTH: HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
Vaccination is the most important tool available to prevent your body from catching the flu. Incorporating additional preventative measures in your daily lifestyle can effectively reduce the spread of the influenza virus It is never too late to receive your flu shot as the flu season can continue into the new year. If you are experiencing symptoms of the flu, make an appointment with MCR Health as soon as possible to receive treatment. If you cannot schedule an appointment in a timely manner, consider consulting with a pharmacist or utilizing “walk-in” hours.