Influenza – more commonly known as the flu – is a contagious virus-caused illness. Many tend to confuse the flu with the common cold, since symptoms of sneezing, a sore throat, or having a runny nose are present in both. However, the flu can also come with other symptoms like body aches and a fever. It can also be deadly.
While easily treated most of the time, there have been flu pandemics – such as the H1N1 virus – that have claimed hundreds of lives, even in developed countries.
>Preventing the Flu
With the flu season here once again, it’s extra important to protect oneself against viruses. While the flu might seem like a non-serious passing virus to most, many tend to forget that it can lead to severe complications like pneumonia, bronchitis, sinusitis, ear infection, meningitis (inflammation of the lining that covers the brain) or even death. That said, flu season or not, it’s also good to practice good hygiene and healthy habits to prevent viruses from getting you under the weather. Here’s how to guard yourself against the flu as you go about your daily activities:
1. Minimise contact with the sick and avoid sharing saliva
It’s best to avoid close contact with those who are sick to prevent yourself from catching their germs. Flu viruses can be easily spread when people who are infected cough, sneeze, or even talk – and the droplets from their nose and mouth land on you.
Sharing food and drinks is a great bonding activity, but it’s also a fast way for viruses to spread through saliva. If you are having the same dishes, use a serving spoon.
Similarly, avoid kissing or hugging your loved ones who are sick as well.
2. Wash your hands with soap often and avoid touching your face
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid people who have the flu – especially when the ill person is your family member or a colleague who sits next to you at work. In such cases, it’s important to remember to cleanse your hands often, preferably with antibacterial soap followed by sanitiser, to kill any germs you may have come into contact with while interacting with them. It would also help to avoid touching your face, so that viruses don’t enter your body through facial orifices. As an added precaution, wash your hands with soap after coming home as well, because there are germs present everywhere – be it at the coffee shop or in the bus.
3. Get flu vaccinations
You can get yearly flu jabs, which will help protect you by building up your resistance against the influenza virus. These are available at most GPs and hospitals; check with your family doctor on how you can get your flu injections.
4.Boost your immunity with vitamin-rich food
When your immunity is high, you are less susceptible to infections. You can easily boost your health with the food you eat; A balanced diet with sufficient vitamins from fruit and leafy vegetables is key to keeping in good health.
To further strengthen your body’s defense, you can also get vitamins from pharmacies and wellness stores. Vitamin C and Zinc are some supplements that can help.
5. Keep up a healthy lifestyle
Having healthy habits, including getting enough rest, avoiding smoking and eating junk food, but also taking care of your allergies, is mandatory in order to resist better to viruses.
6. Wear a mask when in crowded areas during the flu season
Not that you should be overly paranoid, but when flu season hits and it’s particularly deadly, you might want to consider wearing a mask while you’re in crowded places – such as in the tightly packed train during your commute at peak hour.w
>Recovering from the flu
If you’ve been hit by the flu bug, here are some ways you can speed up your recovery:
1. Visit the doctor to get antiviral medication
Antiviral drugs can help to offset flu symptoms, quicken the recovery, and prevent complications. These usually have to be prescribed by a doctor, so do not hesitate to visit your GP if you’re experiencing flu symptoms.
2. Stay hydrated with the right liquids
Being sick tends to result in a loss of fluids, which can lead to dehydration, so do drink lots of water to aid your recovery. If you’re not a fan of plain water, hot honey lemon water also helps – lemon is rich in Vitamin C, and honey can soothe coughs.
If you’re lacking appetite, go for soups as meals. They’re comforting, help you get your nutrition in, and provide water content.
3. Drink Chicken Soup
Chicken soup might be the perfect remedy for illnesses: thanks to its anti-inflammatory effects and high levels of nutrients and minerals, it gives your immune system a boost and helps you to cure faster.
Some of its components, as carnosine, are proven to help reduce the symptoms such as sore throats and congested noses.
You might be dealing with some congestion in your lungs and nasal passages while nursing the flu. Breathing in steam with essential oils can help clear your airways. Eucalyptus and menthol are especially helpful.
If that’s too much of a hassle, you can also purchase eucalyptus and menthol chest rubs from pharmacies and personal care stores.
5. Stay home and rest
You might still want to soldier on at work even when sick, but as your body is fighting off the virus, it needs plenty of rest. Do get sufficient sleep as well, because that’s when the body repairs itself.
Call in sick if you really need to, and take time off to sleep – it’s more beneficial than showing up and having your work hampered because you’re unable to put in your 100%. And you don’t want to be that person infecting your colleagues!