Ah, if only there were a way to avoid the dreaded flu. Every winter people call out of work, children are kept home from school, and anxious mothers disinfect the home to try to avoid the illness. The flu is usually contracted between the months of October and May, but generally peaks between December and February. 1 While it may be impossible to avoid coming in contact with the flu virus - aside from allowing yourself to live inside a bubble throughout the colder months - there are certain steps you can take to help you avoid contracting the flu.
How To Avoid the Flu When it is in Your House
If your roommate, spouse, or a family member has become sick with the flu, it can seem almost impossible to keep yourself safe from the virus. While having the flu inside your own home can increase your chances of contracting it, there are still ways you can avoid coming down with the symptoms. Believe it or not, living in close quarters with a virus doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll contract it.
Get the flu shot
A new flu shot comes out every year, better equipped to fight the current strains of flu going around. Although getting a flu shot doesn’t guarantee 100% that you’ll avoid contracting it, it definitely helps your immune system recognize and fight off certain strains of the virus.
Stay clear of the infected person
If you’re used to sharing a bed, cuddling before work in the mornings or giving constant hugs, staying clear of your partner while they’re ill may seem a bit extreme. However, the incredibly contagious virus can be contracted simply by standing within 6 feet of an infected person who is talking, coughing, sneezing, or even breathing near you. People with the flu can be contagious a day before showing symptoms and up to 5-7 days afterward. It is thought that the first two to three days of showing symptoms are the worst. 2
While you may be used to cleaning your surfaces with good old fashioned soap and water, this simply won’t cut it when the flu is in your home. You’ll need a good disinfectant, which can be made from water, white vinegar, and a mixture of good antimicrobial essential oils, such as lemon, tea tree, cinnamon leaf, thyme, oregano, and eucalyptus.
How to Avoid the Flu on an Airplane
During flu season, being stuck on a long-haul flight with a dozen (or more) sick passengers is everyone’s nightmare. You’re all breathing the same air, you’re stuck in close quarters and soon you imagine every surface crawling with germs. Luckily, there are certain precautions you can take to avoid contracting the flu while flying.
Disinfect communal surfaces
Although planes are ‘cleaned’ after each flight, it’s unlikely that every surface (such as tray tables, armrests and remotes) has been properly disinfected. Since the flu virus can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours, it’s important to disinfect any communal surfaces before you touch them. Although you won’t be able to get a whole spray bottle of disinfectant through security, you can keep disposable wipes or a small bottle of tea tree oil on hand.
Keep yourself hydrated
It is always recommended to drink water (instead of alcohol or caffeine) on a flight, but this is doubly important during flu season. Excessive amounts of caffeine or alcohol can cause you to become dehydrated and leave your immune system weaker than usual. By choosing water and being conscious of keeping yourself properly hydrated, you can avoid becoming ill.
Choose a window seat
While window seats are often desired for their birds-eye view, they are also great for avoiding the constant traffic in the aisle of the airplane. Those who are in an aisle seat have a higher chance of being coughed on, sneezed on, or having their arm rest touched by an infected passenger.
How to Avoid the Flu After Being Exposed
If you’ve already been exposed to the flu virus, you may think it is inevitable that you’ll begin to show symptoms. With a bit of diligence (and thinking ahead), you can avoid showing symptoms of the flu virus even if you’ve been exposed. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping your immune system functioning properly are two of the best ways to ensure that you won’t come down with the flu.
Get enough vitamin D
If you are vitamin D deficient, your immune system cannot function properly. The more vitamin D you get, the better equipped your immune system will be to fight off illnesses. During the summer, many of us get enough vitamin D simply through sun exposure. However, in the cold winter months, a supplement may be necessary to get the required amount. 3
In a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, it was found that upper respiratory tract infections were reduced in physically fit and active adults. 4 This study shows that a consistent exercise regimen can help your body fight off illnesses and keep you healthy during flu season.
Eat your vegetables
A diet high in fresh fruit and vegetables can ensure that you are getting the proper nutrition to keep your immune system (as well as the rest of your body) functioning properly. Since most food these days is processed, it’s doubly important to ensure you’re eating uncooked, fresh foods on a regular basis.
Stress has been proven to negatively affect your immune system, which makes it especially important to manage your stress levels during flu season. Getting proper sleep and maintaining a healthy diet can help, but for added relief, you should spend 10-15 minutes in either the morning or evening to simply meditate and let your worries fall away. To assist in relieving stress, diffuse a relaxing essential oil throughout your home such as lavender, ylang ylang, roman chamomile or frankincense.
Flu season need not be a time of worry when you have the proper knowledge and precautions to keep yourself and your family healthy. Whether you have already been exposed to the virus, someone in your home is infected, or you are stuck on a long-haul flight, there are ways to ensure that you remain healthy and well throughout the season.
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