This flu season is shaping up to be one of the roughest in recent years. During a recent CDC Press Briefing on the rapid spread of influenza virus strains in the U.S., CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden pointed out that 47 states are currently reporting “widespread geographic influenza activity.” Additionally, Dr. Richard Besser, ABC Chief Health and Medical Director, warned in an interview that although flu activity seems to be decreasing in some states that were hit early on, such as those in the southern U.S., we could still be facing up to six more weeks of flu season. It’s no wonder that people are taking this year’s flu season seriously.
Beyond flu vaccinations, regular hand-washing, covering your cough and sneeze, and staying home when you feel sick, there are other flu prevention methods to give you the best chance of avoiding the illness this season.
- Practice healthy lifestyle habits: It’s always a good idea to eat nutritious foods, get plenty of rest, and stay hydrated. During flu season, a healthy daily regimen keeps your body in tip-top condition to stave off infection. For example, WebMD points out that aerobic exercise helps the body produce vital virus-killing cells.
- Use tissues: Everyone knows that covering your coughs and sneezes are an important part of preventing the spread of the influenza virus. However, covering them with your hand increases the possibility of infecting others through touch. Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw that tissue away immediately. If a tissue is unavailable, sneeze or cough into your elbow.
- Clean surfaces with dry steam vapor: The surfaces of your home can be virtual breeding grounds for germs and viruses. Although your go-to chemical cleaners can eliminate viruses, the disinfection process is not as simple as spray and wipe. In fact, many cleaners must sit up to five minutes on surfaces to disinfect. Dry steam cleaning with products such as the Ladybug 2200S with TANCS cleans and disinfects surfaces within a matter of seconds. Best of all, no chemicals are used in the cleaning process, eliminating harmful chemical residues and odors left behind by popular household cleaners.
- Reduce or avoid alcohol consumption: Sure, your grandma has long touted the benefits of hot toddies and other alcohol-centric home remedies for illness. She is probably also a fan of mothballs and witch hazel. Those in the medical community, however, point out that heavy alcohol consumption can harm your immune system and leave you dehydrated, making your body more vulnerable to the flu virus.
- Filter your indoor air: The flu is transmitted through tiny airborne droplets. In a closed environment, such as your home or office, the virus could be continually circulating. Many air purifiers, like the Winix PlasmaWave 6300 and the Oransi V-Hepa Finn, actually incorporate elements that eliminate germs and viruses in addition to removing irritating dust, pollen, and other particles. This creates an overall healthier indoor environment.
- Don’t stress: Easier said than done. However, by taking proactive steps to reduce your stress levels, you can also boost your immune system.