Flu Season Tips and Precautions : Not only are we still in the midst of a global pandemic, but we’ve also entered the inevitable flu season. Of course this happens every year, but with the overlap of COVID-19, the 2020 flu season is being rightfully described as unpredictable. “People really do need to take precautions during this particular flu season,” said Dr. Alex Chen, Chief Medical Officer at Health Net.
“This year, especially, medical experts across the country are urging people to get the vaccine in the hopes of helping avoid a “twin-demic” situation- having the flu and coronavirus at the same time.” With this in mind, it’s important to know the ways we can support our immune system and the actions we can take to protect ourselves and others from the flu.
Get A Flu Shot
According to data from the CDC, less than half of Americans got a flu vaccine last season and at least 410,000 people were hospitalized from the flu. The CDC also recommends that everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine sometime in early autumn. But even as we move closer to winter, it’s still not too late to get a flu shot. Some healthcare providers are distributing the vaccine to those who don’t have access in order to prevent the influenza from spreading. Health Net for example, sent their Care On Wheels RV into the community and offered free vaccinations; to learn more check out their Twitter! You could also check with your current healthcare provider, primary care physician or local pharmacies.
Give Your Immune System a Boost
Our immune system is one of the most complex systems in our body, working to stop threats of bacteria or viruses from taking over. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin D can help boost immune cell production. When our bodies are exposed to sunlight it naturally makes Vitamin D which is why during the summer months our immune system is stronger and we are sick less. However, as grey winter skies close in on us our Vitamin D levels can begin to drop immensely. Our days get shorter and colder, and Vitamin D deficiency occurs; playing a crucial role in weakening our immune system and making us more prone to getting sick.
If you’re someone who lives in a place that sees more clouds than clear skies, there are easy ways to boost or maintain a healthy level of Vitamin D. Start by filling your diet with foods rich in Vitamin D such as fish, fish oils, eggs, some meats and fortified dairy. Depending on your deficiency levels, this might do the trick. If not, taking a Vitamin D supplement can also be very effective. Discuss with your doctor to determine what they recommend for your daily dose of Vitamin D.
On top of Vitamin D, supporting your immune system all starts by nourishing your gut. According to Harvard Medical School, taking a daily probiotic supplement has been shown to secrete protective substances, which may turn on the immune system and prevent pathogens from taking hold and creating major disease.
Control The Germs
Germs are sneaky little things that we cannot see, but they are there lurking and waiting to spread from person to person. Creating proper hygiene habits not only means protecting yourself from respiratory infections or contagious diseases, but also being mindful of those around you. Proper hygiene habits may include:
- Washing your hands often, for 20 seconds each time with soap that has antibacterial. You should wash your hands before and after you eat, after using the bathroom, and doing daily activities.
- Change out of dirty clothes, especially if you have been in public all day. Don’t let your dirty clothes pile up, get them right into the washer.
- Showering on a regular basis helps to get rid of germs or other pathogens you’ve come in contact with throughout the day.
Other ways you can protect yourself and others from germs are:
- If you feel that you’re coming down with something, stay home and avoid close contact with others.
- Cover your nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.
- Wear a mask when out in public.
Studies consistently show that dealing with any kind of prolonged stress can negatively affect “all aspects” of our bodies’ immune response. Pair this knowledge with the particularly stressful year 2020 has been, and it’s safe to say we all deserve some focused relaxation and self-care.
Whether your stress comes from your job, your family, a relationship, etc., making time for yourself is crucial to maintaining a calm and healthy focus. Any time you can take to unplug, focus on a hobby, or any other welcome distraction, is helpful to both your mental health, and your immune system. If you’re not taking steps to reduce your personal stress, just think about how much worse you’ll feel when you’re stressed out and sick at the same time!
No one ever wants to get sick, and flu season can be difficult to navigate. But if you take these tips seriously, and put these precautions in place, you can keep yourself, and your loved ones, healthy and safe year round.
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