5 easy steps to flu prevention
As leaves turn orange, decorations get spooky, and the calendar flips to fall, my mind goes to a different dawning season.
Too many people don’t give the flu the respect it deserves.
Which is scary, since we don’t have very good treatment options. The flu vaccine is a best-guess half-measure, leaving us with lots of rest and plenty of fluids as our best weapons.
Influenza and pneumonia are among the top-ten killers in the US, responsible for almost 57,000 deaths a year.
But that’s in a normal year. The worst pandemic of modern times was the Spanish Flu that swept the world in 1918. It’s estimated that flu caused more deaths than all the battles of World War I combined.
My point is, you shouldn’t take the flu lightly.
That’s why, at the beginning of each flu season, I like to remind people of ways to avoid picking up the flu.
The five tips you’ll find below won’t guarantee you don’t get sick. But they certainly help your chances. And, when we’re talking about an opponent as pernicious as the flu, every little bit helps.
1. Wash Your Hands
Let’s start with the most obvious. Almost every invading germ comes to you through touch.
And that usually means your hands.
Washing your hands is a basic health precaution in all times. But when it’s flu season, I double my efforts.
Because, no matter how careful you are, you’re always exposed.
Just think about all the things you touch that have been touched by someone else recently.
Door handles, yes, of course. But don’t forget someone set your cutlery down at the restaurant. Or that everyone in your house has used the remote control, which probably has never been cleaned. Or that your cell phone—home to 10 times as many germs as the toilet—has probably never been cleaned either.
The point is, we’re constantly bombarded by germs. During flu season, it pays to wash your hands more than normal. Not just after using the toilet—but whenever you come in contact with public space.
2. Help Your Body Out
No matter how clean you are, there will still be some germs that make it past your soapy routines and onto your body.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We need some exposure to germs to keep our immune system strong and active.
But we also should do everything possible to give our immune system its best possible chance.
That means daily supplements of vitamin C (4,000 mg daily of liposomal vitamin C, in divided doses) and colloidal silver (follow the recommendation on the product you purchase as the purity of the silver varies.)
Vitamin C helps your immune system function optimally. And silver is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-microbial.
Taken together, you are strengthening your defenses, while weakening invading forces. That’s a very potent combination.
3. Choose Health Over Pleasantries
We’ve all been in a public place around someone who is obviously sick.
This one is simple. Avoid that person like the plague (pun intended).
Anyone coughing or sneezing, move away. Anyone with a red nose or chapped lips, turn around.
And, while you’re at it, try to keep hand-shaking or high-fiving to a minimum.
If you need an excuse, you can always say that you haven’t been feeling great, and you’re doing it for their own protection.
Whatever excuse you are comfortable making, do it. Trust me—a few seconds of social awkwardness beats a week or two of the flu.
4. Exercise and Drink Lots Of Water
This tip goes back to helping your body perform at peak efficiency.
As the weather grows colder and our body retreats into semi-hibernation, it’s easy to skip the gym here or there.
And it’s easy to trade lots of cold glasses of water for fewer cups of hot tea.
Don’t do it.
Now more than ever, you need your exercise and fluids.
Exercise has a huge, direct impact on your immune system. A well-exercised body is a healthy one, in all ways.
Likewise, your body needs proper hydration to perform at its peak. When the temperature drops, we don’t receive as many cues to drink up.
But it’s essential for your health that you do.
That’s why, when fall hits, I recommend to others to set little reminders in their calendars. Drink one ounce of water for every two pounds you weigh. If you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water every day.
And, in this case, more is better. It’s nearly impossible to purposefully drink too much water. But it’s very easy to drink too little.
5. Don’t Vaccinate And Then Forget
I hear it from people all the time. Only in years when they vaccinate, do they get the flu!
No, I don’t think the vaccine is causing their flu. Not directly, anyway.
The problem is the flu vaccine is incomplete. Researchers make their best guess about what three or four flu strains will be most prevalent in any given year, and put those in the vaccine.
But there are always more than three or four strains out there. Sometimes, the vaccine misses entirely, and the worst flus aren’t covered at all.
What’s more, the effectiveness of the vaccine varies quite a bit depending on the health and characteristics of the person getting it. Even a well-matched vaccine might not work on some people.
In other words, the flu vaccine is never a sure thing—far from it.
The problem, however, is that some people treat it as such. They think, once they’re vaccinated, they’re invincible.
And that’s why so many people find themselves getting sick despite taking the vaccine.
Don’t let that happen to you.
If you choose to get the vaccine, keep your guard up. Pay attention to your surroundings. Treat possible sources of infection with caution. Keep yourself and nearby surfaces clean.
Follow these rules, and you’ve got a much better shot of escaping flu season no worse for wear.
Last Updated: November 12, 2019
Originally Published: October 7, 2015