The flu season is rapidly approaching, and now is the time to get prepared. Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming flu season, including information on the vaccine, symptoms to watch out for and ways to avoid becoming ill.
The Flu Vaccine This Year
The flu virus is constantly mutating, so the flu vaccine gets updated every single year. This means that if you got the flu vaccine last year, it will do nothing to help you avoid the strains of the flu that are circulating this year. The flu vaccine protects against certain type A and B strains of the virus - most often protecting against the three or four most prevalent types of the virus. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available to protect against type C. Even so, type C produces milder symptoms and isn’t the cause of the larger seasonal outbreaks.
While you can get vaccinated at any time during the season, it is recommended to get vaccinated before an outbreak begins. It takes approximately two weeks after vaccination for the proper antibodies to develop in your body, so you should aim to get the flu shot in early fall. 1
When Is the Flu Season?
Although you can get the flu at any time of the year, the colder months are when flu season peaks in the United States. Flu season generally begins in October and can last as long as May, peaking between December and February. Over the past 36 years, 15 showed the highest number of flu cases in February.
What Symptoms Should You Watch for?
Although the flu is highly contagious and will be prevalent this upcoming winter, there are other viruses that you should watch out for. Two other respiratory viruses also circulate during the winter months, including rhinovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Rhinovirus is the most common cause of the common cold, while RSV is the most common cause of extreme respiratory illness in young children, as well as the leading cause of death from respiratory illness in those over 65 years of age. 2
This year’s flu symptoms include severe muscle and joint aches, weakness or fatigue, fever, chills, a headache, a dry cough, sore throat, and runny nose. Symptoms of the flu come on a lot quicker than those of a cold, and fever, chills and extreme fatigue are often telltale signs of the flu. 3
How To Protect Yourself
While you don’t need to drag yourself to the gym every morning, it’s important to sneak some regular exercise into your daily routine. Maintaining a consistent exercise regimen can help keep your immune system functioning properly. 4 Start by taking a 15-20 minute walk each day, whether it’s around the block, to the grocery store or through the local park.
Use Natural Preventatives
Taking zinc and echinacea supplements, drinking herbal teas and diffusing essential oils throughout your home can all help prevent you from coming down with an illness. Try diffusing a blend of clove, eucalyptus, rosemary, lemon and cinnamon leaf essential oils throughout your home! This powerful antimicrobial blend can help rid the air of harmful microbes that can make you ill.
Get Enough Sleep
Your body needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night to function properly, and many of us don’t get much. Try to wind down a few hours before bedtime, reducing the amount of television watching and smartphone scrolling you do during this time. To help promote restful sleep, diffuse lavender essential oil throughout your room about 15 minutes before bedtime.
A well-rounded diet is a key to optimum health. Make sure you’re including fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as vitamins A, C, E and D. 5 While you can take vitamin supplements for the nutrients you’re lacking, it’s better for your body to get these nutrients in the form of actual food.
Stress takes a toll on our bodies, and chronic stress can weaken the immune system over time. 6 In this busy world, many of us don’t have a lot of time to focus on our mental health. By taking a few minutes out of each day to meditate, you can reduce levels of stress and anxiety and keep yourself healthy. Try diffusing a blend of frankincense and sandalwood essential oils to promote peace.
Although flu season is just around the corner, it is not a cause for alarm. While it may seem like everyone around you is getting sick, you can still protect you and your family by taking a couple of simple precautions. By ensuring that you are properly vaccinated, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and using natural preventatives and remedies such as essential oils, you can maintain the health of you and your loved ones throughout the winter season.
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