An introduction to flu prevention
Flu viruses, as well as those causing the cold, are extremely common and it would be impossible to avoid them completely. However, there are certain measures you can employ to stop the virus in its tracks, so that you do not come down with symptoms of flu or cold symptoms.
The flu jab is offered free to people who are at risk of flu. These are people over the age of 65, pregnant women, people with an underlying health condition or those with a weakened immune system.
The vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies preparing the body to attack viruses. Then, if your body comes in contact with a flu virus, your immune system will recognise it and immediately fight it.
However, as the flu virus adapts regularly, the flu vaccination one year might not protect you against infection the following season.
Boost your immune system
There are some measures you can take, easily from home, which can help to support your immune system and encourage it to work properly:
- Avoid becoming dehydrated. A typical healthy adult needs around 1.5 litres of water each day. Drinking water flushes out your system and helps keep your immune system strong
- It is well known that stress can weaken your immune system. This is why you are more likely to pick up colds or flu if you are working too hard or have worries
- Sleep problems can also affect the immune system. Achieving eight hours of restful sleep each night helps the body repair itself and build the immune system. Some people find the use of sleep remedies useful
- A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help you avoid health problems. Foods rich in vitamins A and C such as citrus fruit, dark blue and red berries, mangoes, apricots, carrots and beetroot support the immune system
- We know this seems boring, but drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is bad for immune cells, which become disorientated and confused…just like us!
Echinacea is a herb which fights colds and flu by strengthening the immune system. In this way, it helps improve the body's resistance to infection. If your immune system is feeling fit and healthy then the greater its chances of warding off any unwanted infections.
Apply good hygiene measures
Common cold and flu viruses spread by direct contact so it is vital to wash your hands regularly. Avoid people with colds or the flu like the plague – viruses spread from their hands to door handles, the telephone or the keyboard and can live for hours on these surfaces. The next person touching the same object will pick up these bugs, so wash your hands often or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers to prevent these viruses passing into your body.
Avoid getting stuck in a room full of people with stale air. Get out in the fresh air regularly and breathe deeply. This helps the lymphatic system move protective immune cells around the body.
Avoid smoking as this is an irritant to the delicate tissues of your respiratory system and increases your susceptibility to viruses that cause colds and flu.
When you are feeling a bit vulnerable to infection, stay out of the cold night air and avoid the direct stream of air-conditioned air.