Flu Season Is Starting: 5 Tips To Avoid Falling Sick

Since flu season is right around the corner, it is important to start taking preventative measures. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that influenza has annually resulted in between 9.2 million and 35.6 million illnesses. Here are five easy tips for avoiding the flu this year.

1. Flu vaccine

The most significant preventative step you can take is to get a flu shot each year. Since the viruses keep evolving, the World Health Organization makes regular updates to their recommendations for vaccine compositions.

Though influenza can affect people all year round, illnesses are particularly high during flu season which is said to run from October to March in the United States. Medical experts recommend getting vaccinated before the end of October.

2. Keep your hands clean

Given how contagious the flu is, it is important to keep your hands clean as you are touching elevators, doorknobs, and other such objects made for public use.

Hand sanitizers can be used once or twice a day but the best and most recommended method is to wash your hands regularly. One report also presented a reminder on the right technique after finding that 97 percent of Americans wash their hands the wrong way.

3. Good coughing etiquette

"Sneezing or coughing out loud will fill the air with aerosols and droplets," said Andrew Pekosz, professor of molecular microbiology and immunology at Johns Hopkins University. "Some of those can hang around for a significant amount of time after you’ve coughed."

People should cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and correctly dispose of it. It is the least one can do since a study from the University of Maryland found that viruses can spread from an infected person not just via coughing but even by breathing.

4. Antiviral drugs

Flu antiviral drugs are prescription medications i.e. they are not available over-the-counter. While doctors may prescribe them for someone who has already been infected, they may also be prescribed as a preventative form of treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following three flu antiviral drugs — oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), and peramivir (Rapivab). It is important to note that none of these drugs are meant to act as a substitute for the flu vaccine.

5. Diet and exercise

Of course, keeping your immune system in good shape can not only reduce the chances of being infected but can also reduce the severity of illness if one were to catch the flu.

“Exercise is an immune-booster and it can be helpful if you feel well enough to do it," said Dr. Frank Lipman, an integrative and functional medicine physician based in New York City. Following a healthy diet which includes vitamin C and zinc also goes hand in hand with good physical activity.