There are probably very few such persons who have not been infected by the influenza or the flu virus at some point in their life. This is a viral infection of the lungs and the airways. The common symptoms include cough, cold, runny nose, fever and ache all over the body. The flu season typically extends from November to March.
Influenza is highly contagious. That is the reason why thousands of people fall sick with flu every year. It is important to know some basic flu prevention tips so that you reduce the possibility of catching this disease as much as possible.
10 Tips to Prevent Flu
Here are ten basic tips that you can follow to prevent flu:
1. Get the yearly flu vaccine at the beginning of the flu season every year. People who are at high risk like children, old people, health care workers, people recovering from serious illnesses and pregnant women should never skip the flu vaccine.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly, preferably with warm water and soap in order to get rid of the flu virus. Surfaces may contain flu virus which remain viable for up to 48 hours. So, it is necessary to wash your hands to prevent infection. Good quality hand sanitizers can be used if soap is not available.
3. Maintain your personal space. Try to keep a distance of about six feet between you and other persons – especially if they exhibit symptoms of flu.
4. It is necessary to protect your mouth, nose and eyes during the flu season because these are the entry points of the infection. So, avoid touching your face as much as possible.
5. Raw garlic is probably one of the most effective natural remedies used in flu prevention. Chew the raw garlic or smear your nasal cavity with garlic juice as preventive measures.
6. Take some elementary precautions to prevent cross infection. Avoid using shared objects like utensils while wipe other surfaces lie phones and keyboards.
7. Drink plenty of fluids as it is necessary to prevent dehydration in order to prevent flu. You can also drink green tea as it is known to inhibit the progress of influenza.
8. Reduce smoking and alcohol consumption. These decrease the efficiency of your immune system and you will find yourself to be more susceptible to flu.
9. Proper ventilation of the room and airing out of the upholstery, curtains and bed linens are essential steps in flu prevention.
10. Healthy diet consisting of plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and yogurt with a moderate regime of exercise helps to provide a boost to your immune system and prevent the occurrence of flu.
Take steps to avoid spreading flu to others
If you fall prey to influenza in spite of these measures, you should take precautions that you do not contaminate others. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough. It is best to take a day off from work so that you do not spread the disease among your colleagues.
But, in these hard times most people are afraid of losing their jobs if they have too many sick days and that is why many people try to come to work even though they are suffering from flu. By doing this they put their colleagues’ health in danger because the risk of infection is so great.
7 Steps to Prevent Flu at Workspace
Here are seven great tips to prevent flu at the workplace:
1. Wash your hands frequently for about 20 seconds using warm water or soap. This should be done especially after you touch a shared item like phone, copier machine, keyboard, coffeemaker handle, tools, doorknobs, countertops or buttons of an elevator.
2. Avoid touching your face after having touched any of the shared items listed above or after you have shaken hands with someone. Keep an alcohol based gel hand sanitizer to use after you have touched someone – or something – else.
3. Keep a stock of disinfectant wipes. Wipe down the desktop surface, keyboard and the phone before you start handling them in the morning and a few times in between.
4. Cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough. Keep tissue paper handy and throw them away after you have used them. If you cover your mouth with your hand while sneezing, wash your hands immediately afterwards.
5. According to one survey, most cases of workplace flu spread by cross infection when sick people show up for work. So, if you are feeling sick and anticipate flu coming on, the best course of action is to call in sick. Otherwise, you will spread the infection among your colleagues and you will not be able to perform very well because you are sick. So, reporting to work when you are infected with flu is of no help to anybody.
6. Wash your water bottle daily and do not share it with anyone.
7. Make sure your office is well ventilated and is aired out frequently. Otherwise, infection from one person will spread quickly through the entire workplace.
Yearly vaccination is probably the best flu prevention
Every year, flu shots are given at the beginning of the flu season in November. The composition changes every year. It is best to take these yearly flu shots. They grant you some measure of protection against cross contamination of influenza at the workplace.
How can vaccines help to prevent flu?
Here are some important facts that you should know about the flu vaccine and its role in prevention of infection:
Seasonal flu vaccines should be taken every year before the onset of the flu season. This is especially true for the more vulnerable group of people like children, pregnant women and aged people. However, anybody above the age of six months should get the flu vaccine.
The flu vaccine can be taken as a shot or as a nasal spray vaccine.
The flu vaccine helps the body to develop adequate antibodies against influenza infection. It takes about two weeks for these antibodies to develop fully. These antibodies provide protection against the flu virus.
Research is conducted every year to find out which type of flu virus is likely to dominate in that particular year and accordingly the flu vaccine is prepared and circulated. In general, three types of flu vaccines are most common. These are influenza B viruses, influenza A (H1N1) viruses, and influenza A (H3N2) viruses.
Though normally the flu season starts around the middle of November, in some years, it may set in as early as October. It takes two full weeks for the flu antibodies to develop after the shot. So, you should get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in your community.
You can get the flu vaccine at clinics, doctors’ offices and health departments. These are also sometimes distributed in schools.
The immunity that the body acquires with the vaccine gradually declines with the passage of time. Also, the character of the dominant flu virus change every year. That is why it is necessary to get the flu vaccine every year.
When you get vaccinated, you can expect some mild side effects like swelling, redness, low grade fever and ache. In very few instances, severe allergic reactions have been reported.
A few people should not get influenza vaccine. They include babies less than six months of age, people with severe allergy to chicken eggs or those with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
Influenza vaccine is produced and distributed by private companies. The Department of Health and Human Services and CDC have no role to play here.
Get timely vaccines to prevent flu
Though you may have escaped the clutches of flu the last few years, you should not neglect to get the flu vaccine. This is a very necessary precaution to protect against influenza, especially for the children.
Children are often highly vulnerable to flu because they are often in a crowded situation where the sickness spreads quickly if even one child is sick. Whether it is at the school or day care centers or the playground, children come in contact with huge number of other people during the course of the day and have a high chance of catching the flu. Not only will this lead to highly uncomfortable cold, cough and fever, it can also result in serious complications like pneumonia and bronchitis. That is why it is necessary to take a few steps to prevent flu in children during the flu season.
8 Tips for Flu Prevention for Kids
Here are a few basic tips that you should follow to protect your kids from flu as much as possible:
1. Get your children regular flu vaccination, especially if they suffer from certain allergic conditions like asthma or diabetes or more serious conditions like carcinoma or immune deficiency disorders. It is also a good idea to get your children flu shots if they are exposed to crowded situations like school.
2. It is your responsibility to teach your kids healthy habits that will help to protect them against flu. The most important thing to know is to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water. This one healthy habit will go a long way towards preventing flu in children. They should use hand sanitizers only when soap and water is not available.
3. Teach your children to cover their mouths with tissues when they sneeze or cough and to dispose of the used tissue properly.
4. Keep your children away from crowded and congested areas during the flu season.
5. Do not allow sick people near your children. You need to keep in mind that children are more vulnerable to infection than adults.
6. Regularly air out the rooms of your children. Bed linens should be changed every other day.
7. Build up the immune system of your child with proper diet. Make sure they drink plenty of water and eat fresh fruits, veggies and adequate protein. This will help them to fight the infection even if they are exposed to it.
8. If you leave your child at a day care center, you need to scrutinize their facilities carefully. Otherwise this will be one of the most common places from which your child may catch the infection.
Take adequate and timely measures to prevent flu in your children
Flu can be a highly uncomfortable condition for your child. In some cases, influenza can assume a much more serious form and cause serious harm to your children. So, every year you should take timely measures including influenza vaccination to protect your children against this highly contagious disease.
The most prudent step is to prevent exposure to flu virus as much as possible. The flu infection spreads through air. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, the germ is released in the air and travels to infect other persons in the vicinity. Similarly, if an infected person touches his face and then other surfaces, the flu germ stays on these surfaces and remains viable for up to 48 hours. So, you need to know a few steps how to prevent flu even after you have been exposed to it.
The 5 Steps to Prevent Flu After Exposure
Here are basic five steps that you can follow in order to prevent flu after exposure:
1. Wash your hands frequently, especially after coming in contact with a person who is showing early signs of the flu infection. If you touch any surface touched by that person like countertops, phones or keyboards, wash your hands at once before you touch your mouth with it.
2. Always carry a bottle of alcohol based hand sanitizer with you in your workplace. Using it in a timely manner will help you to reduce the risk of flu infection even after exposure.
3. If you are exposed to flu virus, it is best to consult a doctor and start taking anti viral medicine. Antibiotics will not work in case of flu infection because they are only effective in dealing with bacterial infections. You should know that antiviral medicines are not available without a medical prescription. So, you should consult a doctor to obtain this medicine.
4. If somebody in your home is sick with flu, you will need to take far more stringent measures to protect the other members of the family who are now exposed to it. Wash the towels, bed linens and pillows every day. Separate the utensils used by the sick person. Wash your hands thoroughly after you tend to the sick member of the family. Use disinfectants on common surfaces of your home like phones, remote controls, faucets, toilet seats etc.
5. Eat and drink well to enable your body to fight the infection even if you are exposed to it. Drink at least eight glasses of water to remain hydrated. Fresh fruits and veggies help to boost the immune system. Add in a daily dose of exercise and you will be able to prevent flu even after exposure.
Vaccination is the most recommended way to prevent flu after exposure
While the above measures are quite effective in flu prevention after exposure, you should take annual flu vaccines every year. In that way, even if you are exposed to flu virus there will be lesser chance of you falling sick. Get all the members of your family vaccinated every year to minimize the risk of infection.