For the elderly & infirm population alike, the influenza vaccination is a hot ticket debate. People on both sides of the issue are adamant that their way is correct & that the other side is wholly uninformed in the debate. (I've yet to understand how anyone with a reputable search engine could be uninformed about anything nowadays, though). The truth of the matter is, people have different opinions about it, & we're all just going to have to be okay with that. But, whether you've decided to have a vaccination or not, the truth is that you can still catch the flu. Since this is flu season, I thought I'd write a bit about how to increase your odds against contracting this ever mutating virus.
#1. Wash your hands. I know, I know, this is standard advice given everywhere. But, some people are not aware that simply soaping up & rinsing their hands is not enough, you need to soap, use very warm water & rub vigorously for at least 15 seconds in order to kill germs on your hands. The friction caused by scrubbing your hands is really what is doing the work, not the type of soap you use, so do not worry if you're not using anti-bacterial soap. Many cities are against the use of anti-bacterial soap in their sewers.
#2. Humidify! Studies have shown that influenza virus cannot thrive in very warm (think 86) or very humid (45-50%) environments. Buy a humidifier, hang wet clothes in the house, simmer water on the stove, or find another means to raise the humidity in your home in the winter, especially if you live in a very cold or very dry environment.
#3. Become a recluse! This will not work indefinitely, so try to save it for the worst part of the cold/flu season! Plan less outings & meetings. Be sure that you're well rested when you do have contact with the masses in places like clinics or big box stores. Do your best to limit your contact to healthy people. If you work in the healthcare sector, this will not be feasible, but following the other suggestions should still help to protect you.
#4. Rest up. Getting adequate sleep can help to boost your immunity. Get sleep when you need it. This season is not the time to kick it into overdrive. Take a clue from the levels of sunlight. If the days need more sleep, so do you!
#5. Supplement. Look into supplements that will boost your immunity. Garlic, Vitamin D3, echinacea & elderberry syrup are just a few that come to mind. Be sure you're getting probiotics in your diet or through a supplement to help you fight off any secondary bacterial infections often associated with the cold/flu season.
#6. Hydrate. Drink enough water so that your body can function smoothly. Often in very cold climates, people tend to reduce their water intake because of the preference for warm drinks loaded with sugar. Coffee, tea, hot cocoa or hot lemon are great, but be sure they're not replacing the good old fashioned water that your body needs. Too much caffeine can also lower your immunity, so if you're overly addicted to caffeine, consider cutting back & replacing it with something else in your beverage diet.
#7. Try diffusing some essential oils that are known for their anti-viral properties. Just ask a friend who is really into oils, they will be happy to let you know which ones are the best & where to find the best deal!
#8. Remember that we will never have a foolproof system against virus spread. If all of us do our best to control the environments that we're in charge of, however, we should be able to make a dent in the amount of people that catch/transmit influenza. So do your best, don't go out if you have flu-like symptoms, don't allow your children to go places if they're feeling ill, and above all, cover your cough!