Last flu season nearly 38 million people came down with the illness. Of those, 531,000 were hospitalized, and between 36,400 and 61,200 people died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of course the usual advice is great: Get the vaccine, wash your hands often, and avoid contact with anyone who has been sick. But beyond that, is there anything else we can do?
Most illness are spread by your hands, so using sanitizer and washing them regularly is extremely important, especially after coming home from a day in our germ-ridden world. So that really is the number one thing you can do. But what’s some other advice for avoiding the flu this season all together?
Disinfect items you touch often. Your cell phone, tablet, and desk phone are all prime hiding spots for germs. You touch the outside world, then touch your cell, then put it to your face. It’s an easy way to move viruses around. Wipe these surfaces at least once a day with alcohol wipes.
Get some shut eye. A study published in the medical journal Sleep found that people are slept fewer than six hours a night were more susceptible to catching illnesses.
Drink tea. A 2018 study in the journal Molecules suggests that catechines, a flavonoid and antioxidant in tea, can inhibit the spread of the flu virus in the body. Drink up with a hint of honey for a tasty, healthy way to ward of winter illness.
Eat right. Not enough can be said for maintaining healthy nutrition. A diet diverse with fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, and dairy can keep your immune system work at its best.
Be careful of crowds. The flu virus can survive on some unwashed surfaces for up to 48 hours. If you’re in a public space, you have a higher chance of coming in contact with a surface someone infected has recently come in contact with. Malls, playgrounds, and shopping centers are all hot beds for viruses. Bring plenty of hand sanitizer with you and try not to touch surfaces you don’t have to. Better yet, do your shopping online, or if it’s not important, put it off until the flu season dies down a bit. And if you have to travel, make sure you wash your hands after handling those airport security bins.
See the most likely places you’ll catch a cold this winter.
Don’t touch your face. Your eyes, nose, and mouth are prime entry points for the flu virus. Try to avoid rubbing your eyes, scratching your nose, or biting your nails. You may do these things subconsciously, so it will take some real effort to stop, but it’s still less trouble than battle the flu.
Of course, if you get the flu, don’t worry too much. It is a fairly routine—albeit wildly unpleasant—disease. But don’t be too cavalier either. Most people do recover in a few weeks, but people have also been known to die from it. So for those who get sick, especially the children, pregnant, and the elderly, it’s important to see a doctor.