It’s that time of year again when Canadians collectively brace themselves for the inevitable spread of the flu virus. However, all is not bleak as there are steps one can take to help prevent and cope with the onslaught of the illness.
Here are the top 10 tips to stay healthy this flu season:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you have the virus, protect others by keeping your distance.
- Wash your hands frequently especially before meals. Flu viruses are spread by droplets from infected people when they sneeze, blow their nose, or wipe away secretions from their nose or eyes. As a result, try to keep hands away from your mouth and eyes during this time.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in vitamins C and E to help boost your immune system. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower and corn oils, sunflower seeds, and nuts. You can get your daily vitamin C from foods like orange juice, citrus fruits, broccoli and green peppers. Reduce intake of concentrated sugar like sodas and candy as it impairs the immune response.
- Get a good night’s sleep to keep your body’s immune system at optimum efficiency.
- Stay hydrated. Increasing water intake will help you stay healthy and lessen the chances of coming down with the flu.
- Cover up when you sneeze or cough with a tissue or arm to prevent the spread of the virus.
- Exercise regularly. Not only can regular exercise lower stress, but research indicates that exercise can stimulate the immune system and promote healthy sleep. In a recent study reported in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, scientists found that modest exercise may prevent the elderly from getting colds and flu.
Feeling the onset of flu-like symptoms?
- Get lots of rest. Spending excessive energy steals valuable resources from your immune system. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration caused by fever, loosens mucus, and keeps your throat moist. Warm liquids are preferable, and there is some evidence that inhaling steam early in the course of the flu may reduce the spread of viruses in your upper respiratory tract.
- For treatment, look for an homeopathic medicine like Oscillococcinum (Oscillo), clinically proven to reduce the duration of flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, body aches and headaches when taken at the onset. The sooner you start treating symptoms, the better chance you have for a quick recovery. Keep in mind, homeopathic medicines may not be right for everyone, always read and follow the label.
- If your symptoms become significantly worse after the first three days of illness, especially if your fever subsides and then returns, be sure to see your doctor right away. More information and tips on how to relieve flu-like symptoms are available at the “Homeopathic Medicine Finder” App at www.boiron.ca/app.