Don’t Let the Flu Get You


Short days. Black ice. Snowstorms. Of all the things to dislike about winter, the flu ranks high on most people’s lists. This seasonal plague is caused by the influenza virus, and there are many forms of influenza that can knock you down for days at a time. Typical symptoms include muscle aches and fatigue, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and headaches; some people will also experience fever, diarrhea, and/or vomiting. The flu can be especially harmful for people at risk for flu complications, including young children and the elderly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu season varies from year to year but typically peaks in the United States in February. So now is the time to mount your defense against this debilitating virus, so you can be ready when peak season strikes. According to the CDC, a flu shot is the best defense against seasonal flu. (Bonus! The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study that found that the risk of adverse cardiac events is lower among people who get the influenza vaccine.)

But even if you’ve been vaccinated, there are other steps you can take to reduce your risk:

•Limiting your exposure to infected persons
•Washing your hands frequently with soap and hot water
•Regularly disinfecting shared items such as doorknobs, computer keyboards, and telephones with alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers
•Covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze (sneeze into a tissue or the inside of your elbow)
•Trying not to touch sensitive areas such as the eyes, nose, and mouth
•Taking immune-boosting supplements, such as vitamins A, C, and E and B-complex vitamins, and consider avoiding alcohol, which can dampen immune response
•Invest in a humidifier for your home, since the flu thrives in dry environments

There are even foods and home remedies you can whip up yourself to further protect yourself. For some of these DIY solutions, watch this video from Dr. Oz.