It’s the flu season! And if you didn’t already know, everyone is at risk of getting the flu. The flu is caused by influenza viruses — a viral infection that attacks your respiratory system. It can also cause pneumonia, which is the worst-case scenario for anyone as it is an infection that causes inflammation (i.e. swelling) in one or both lungs.
And with the crazy novel coronavirus that’s been infecting thousands of people around the world, it’s time to be extra careful.
Want to know how can you prevent yourself from getting the flu? Read on to find out!
#1. Wash your hands often
Did you know that those who wash their hands are 21% less likely to suffer from colds?
It’s true! This simple act of washing your hands with soap under clean, running water is perhaps the easiest and most effective ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. This is because bacteria can be easily transmitted to you when you touch contaminated surfaces. And once you realise that flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces for 24 hours, you’ll be sure to want to wash your hands as often as you can!
#2. Keep your hands away from your face
We know you’ve probably heard this a gazillion times — but it’s still worth mentioning because of how important it is.
You probably don’t realise it but the average person touches their face 3.6 times an hour. And touching a contaminated surface and subsequently your face — whether it’s rubbing your eyes, brushing your nose or biting your nails — is one of the top ways viruses get into your system.
So break the habit and stop touching your face!
#3. Get vaccinated
With the rise of influenza cases in Malaysia, the Malaysian Medical Association has urged everyone to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves from getting the flu. The flu should be taken seriously as it is responsible for up to 650,000 respiratory deaths each year. In fact, it is even advisable to get the flu vaccine every year, as every flu season is different.
In Malaysia, the flu vaccine is only given to high-risk patients at government health facilities. However, you can get yours at private clinics and hospitals.
#4. Clean communal surfaces
If you are living with someone who has the flu, there is a possibility that your surroundings are contaminated. As you may recall, flu viruses can stay on hard surfaces for 24 hours.
To avoid coming down with a flu, it’s crucial to clean communal surfaces, especially hotspots such as doorknobs, remote controls, kitchen taps and light switches. Use an antibacterial cleaner to wipe the surface, making sure that it’s visibly wet for a couple of minutes.
#5. Boost your immune system
Your immune system plays a crucial role in protecting you from the flu and other illnesses. Those who have a weak immune system fall sick easily and are prone to infections.
Lucky for you, there are many ways to boost your immune system. For starters, feed your body with fruits that are rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, grapefruit and lemons. Other immune-boosting foods include blueberries, spinach, almonds, red bell peppers and green tea.
#6. Get more sleep
They say “sleep is for the weak” — but that’s not the case if you’re about to fall sick.
A good night’s sleep is important to your health, as lack of sleep can disrupt the normal production of white blood cells, a crucial component of the body’s immune system. In fact, you should be clocking between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night; more if you’re below 18.
Yes, your hectic college schedule may make sleep feel like a luxury, but it is by no means impossible. Make sleep a priority by sticking to a regular sleeping schedule — even over the weekends — and avoid consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime.
#7. Exercise regularly
We probably sound like your mother right now, but regular exercise is a great way to prevent colds. A study in the American Journal of Medicine found that women who walked for 30 minutes every day for a year had half the number of colds compared to those who didn’t exercise.
However, it’s important to listen to your body and not get carried away. Too much exercise can cause stress to your body, reducing white blood cells and interfere with your immune system.
So whether it’s a short walk to the shops across the road, or a quick run at the gym, try scheduling some time each day for some physical activity.
It’s true that health is wealth, and getting sick is certainly no fun. Keep in mind these tips to prevent yourself from getting the flu and with some luck and effort, you can escape the flu season unscathed.