Well, it’s that time of year again — The Flu Season. It normally begins in late August, early September with an increasing rate slowly until about March and April. One misconception is that it is caused by cold temperatures, when in fact the influenza virus must be present to have the flu and lasts for a week to 10 days.

So, aside from dealing with the current virus (which we won’t say it out loud) we still have to concern ourselves with the Flu Season. Being prepared is the best way to try to keep it at bay, however determining if one has a cold or influenza, can be tricky.

Here are some tips to help give us a fighting chance battling against the flu:

Talk to Your Doctor

Get professional advice if you are at risk for complications from flu.

Wash Your Hands Frequently

Flu viruses are spread by droplets from infected people when they sneeze, blow their nose, or wipe away secretions from their nose or eyes. During flu season, everyone should be encouraged to keep their hands out of their mouths, avoid rubbing their eyes, and wash their hands thoroughly several times a day, especially before meals.

Eat a Healthy Diet Rich in Vitamins C and E

Foods containing these vitamins are believed to help support the immune system. Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower and corn oils, sunflower seeds, and nuts such as almonds and peanuts. You can get your daily vitamin C from foods like orange juice, citrus fruits, broccoli, and green peppers. And make an effort to reduce your intake of concentrated sugar (e.g., soda, candy) because excessive sugar impairs the immune response.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Lack of sleep may profoundly inhibit your immune system. Get a full night’s sleep to keep your body’s natural defenses at optimum efficiency.

Stay Hydrated

Increasing your water intake will help you stay healthy and lessen the chance of you coming down with flu. When you are feeling under the weather, drinking extra fluids prevents 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 a cold or flu may reduce the spread of viruses in your upper respiratory tract.

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 study reported in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, scientists found that modest exercise may prevent the elderly from getting colds and flu.1

Listen To Your Body

If you do come down with a cold or flu, take it easy. Spending excessive energy steals valuable resources from the immune system. Even attempting to perform normal activities at work or school may be too much. Besides, if you believe you’re coming down with flu, probably the best thing you can do for friends and family is to not expose them unnecessarily to the virus.

Be Careful with Medications

Children should not take any medications containing aspirin while they have flu. If you take over-the-counter (OTC) cold or flu preparations, make certain that you’re not overdosing. For example, many decongestant OTC medications offer “all-in-one” relief; that is, they may contain fever and pain reducers. If you are also taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen separately, you may inadvertently be ingesting too much of these compounds.

Seek Help if you Get Worse

If your symptoms become significantly worse after the first three days of illness, especially if your fever subsides and then returns, be sure to seek medical attention right away. The reason that flu is considered a potentially dangerous infection is that it leaves the body vulnerable to other infections like pneumonia.

Source: Boiron, IPAC