Preparing yourself for flu season: prevention & treatment
Are you ready for flu season?
According to a recent article published on ABC News, health experts have diagnosed three times more Aussies with the flu than this time last year. Alarmingly, this figure means that our national flu toll for the first three months of the year has almost equalled half the annual total for 2018.
With record numbers of people struck with the flu already, it seems we may be in for an extreme year of influenza viruses. And while flu season actually runs between June and September, now is the time to start taking preventative action to ensure that, when flu season arrives, your body is well prepared to fight it off. So, what can we do to protect ourselves?
To help give yourself the best chance of staying fit and healthy this flu season, have a read of our 6 top tips to preventing flu viruses and treating their symptoms.
1. Personal hygiene
One of the easiest ways to prevent contracting the flu is to be vigilant with washing your hands. This is especially important after going to the bathroom, touching public doors and rails, shaking hands, blowing your nose or wiping your face. Not only will this reduce your chances of catching a virus, but it will also help to prevent the spread of other unwanted germs. To ensure you kill all germs when washing your hands, make sure to wash for at least 30 seconds using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand wash with antibacterial properties.
2. Fresh fruit and vegies
While it may only play one part in building your immune system, eating a balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables can help to fight off flu viruses. To help keep your immunity at its peak during flu season, aim to consume foods that contain antioxidants, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins C, D and E. This should include a good mix of the following foods:
- Citrus fruits
- Green tea
That being said, food alone cannot completely protect you from getting sick, but it does help to give your body the best possible chance of defending itself.
Sleep is another really important tool for preparing your body to fight off colds and flu. When we sleep, our bodies produce and release cytokines – a protein that attacks inflammation and infection. This means that, if we're not getting a decent amount of rest, our body's ability to protect itself will be significantly diminished. For those experience chronic sleep deprivation, the lack of cytokines can even reduce the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
During flu season, it's recommended that we aim to get around 8 hours of sleep per night where possible. If work or other lifestyle factors inhibit your ability to sleep, try napping twice a day for no longer than half an hour to help reduce the impact of sleep deprivation on your immune system.
4. Stay hydrated
Did you know that dehydration can increase your risk of getting sick? The human body needs water to function optimally, and when this is reduced, it changes how your body operates. It also prolongs illness once we have fallen sick. This is because the proteins that fight sickness are transported around the body through our fluids, and lack of such fluids makes it more difficult for them to effectively fight off bugs.
Being adequately hydrated also increases oxygen flow around your body which helps to flush out toxins and germs.
On average, we need around 2L of water per day to maintain optimal hydration. For some, 2L might seem quite difficult to achieve however it's something can be built up over time.
5. Boost your immunity
Every year, we get told the same thing: get your flu shot. With more cases of influenza being diagnosed already this year than last, health professionals are urging more people to get vaccinated. This is especially true for young children, pregnant women, elderly people and those with a pre-existing medical condition, who are at a higher risk.
Depending on your age and other factors, you may be eligible to receive a free flu shot under the National Immunisation Program (NIP). Check your eligibility here.
Influenza vaccinations are recommended to be taken around mid-April. This is because it can take 2-3 weeks to develop immunity, providing the best protection for the following 3-4 months.
6. Listen to your body
You are the best person to advise on your health. If you feel a little run down or notice signs of the flu, it's best to take immediate action to avoid worsening symptoms. Even when you're already ill, following the above tips can help you to recover more quickly.
In addition to these, you might also look into some vitamin supplements to assist your body overcome the influenza virus.
Our favourite all-natural supplement for preventing and fighting off the flu is Echinaforce® Cold & Flu Hot Drink Syrup. This natural remedy contains freshly-harvested Echinacea purpurea herb and root to help combat symptoms, severity and duration of common colds and flu.
Echinacea is a traditional remedy for tackling sickness that has been used around the world for hundreds of years and continues to be utilised to this day.
To learn more about boosting immunity, have a read of our article on Echinacea here or head straight to Echinaforce® Cold & Flu Hot Drink Syrup.