Tips to Help You Stay Healthy During Flu Season
With flu season in full swing, it is important that you take the proper precautions when it comes to keeping yourself and your family healthy. The health experts at Kirby Medical Center outline some tips and tricks you can keep in your arsenal to fight off the flu and help you to have a happy and healthy fall.
When it comes to protecting you and your loved ones from getting sick with the seasonal flu, getting vaccinated is the single most effective way to do so. Not only does staying up-to-date on your vaccines help to keep you healthy, but it also prevents the spread of the disease.
How the Vaccine Works
Whether you decide to get the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine, they help your body to effectively keep you from getting sick with the virus. The influenza vaccine works by helping your immune system to develop antibodies that prevent infection. Typically, it takes your body about two weeks to develop these antibodies after getting your vaccine, which is why receiving your vaccine as early in the season as possible is vital.
How Often Should You Get Vaccinated?
It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older should be vaccinated for the flu at least once each year. Because it takes about 2 weeks for your body to develop flu-fighting antibodies, it is advised that you get your flu shot before mid-November to ensure that you are protected during the height of flu season.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Whether you’re heading out to the grocery store or heading to work, you touch many communal surfaces throughout your day that can harbor and transfer bacteria. To help keep your hands germ-free, it is essential that you follow proper hand-washing techniques to keep you and others safe
- Wet your hands with clean, hot running water.
- Lather your hands with soap, being sure to get suds on the back of your hands and between your fingers.
- Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Rinse your hands with clean, hot running water.
- Dry your hands with a fresh disposable hand towel or air dry them.
Cover Your Mouth
Whether you’re feeling under-the-weather or not, it’s possible that you are already sick with the flu before you start displaying symptoms. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze can help stop the spread of the influenza virus and a host of other illness-causing germs. Rather than using your hands, be sure to cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow or use a disposable tissue to catch your germs.
Eat Seasonal Vegetables
The fall season is an excellent time to experiment with eating seasonal vegetables. This is because produce that is in season is typically fresher and at its peak when it comes to providing you with essential vitamins and nutrients. The next time you're heading out to the grocery store, try adding a few of these fall favorites to make sure your meals pack a nutritious punch:
- Sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Brussels sprouts
Build a Wellness Kit
As you venture out into the world to go to work, school, or even the grocery store—you encounter germs every day when you use communal spaces and surfaces. While you can't actively avoid things like doorknobs and countertops, you can prevent the spread of germs by building your own wellness kit.
Whether you carry a purse or bookbag, carrying around these essentials can help to keep your hands germ-free:
- Face mask of cloth face covering
- Hand sanitizer
- Disinfectant wipes
- A pack of tissues
Keep Your Stress Levels in Check
Elevated levels of stress can wreak havoc on various areas of your health—including your immune function. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities you can add to your everyday routine that can help to promote relaxation and help your immune system to function optimally.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and like your distressing emotions are getting the best of you, try some of the following:
- Breathing exercises
- Spend time with loved ones
- Take a walk
- Get enough sleep
- Take time to yourself
Catch Up On Your Sleep
As the days continue to get shorter, you may be tempted to head to bed earlier than usual—which is a great idea! Getting the recommended 7 - 9 hours of rest each night doesn't just save you from feeling groggy the next day. Getting good quality sleep helps your body to produce enough cytokine, which are proteins that help your body to fight off infection and inflammation.
Limit Your Alcohol Consumption
While drinking in moderation shouldn't cause you any harm, binge-drinking and drinking excessively can leave you more likely to get sick. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can also make it harder for your body to recover from illnesses than it typically would. It also increases strain on your liver, responsible for producing proteins that help your body fight off bacterial infection.
While many of us know that smoking and using tobacco products can leave you at an increased risk for developing chronic health conditions and various types of cancer, it can also leave you more likely to get sick with common illnesses like the flu. This is because it inhibits the immune system, leaving you more likely to face infection and disease.
Contact Kirby Medical Center
At Kirby Medical Center, we are dedicated to helping our community learn how to stay healthy and safe. If you are concerned about your health risks and the types of vaccines that are right for you, contact Kirby Medical Center
at 217-762-2115 to learn more about how we can assist with all your healthcare needs.